It’s been nearly two months since the Safe Start program began in Washington state – and a month since the Stay Home, Stay Healthy program ended. Let’s take a look at how Washington businesses are adapting and get some reminders on best practices.
Reopening phases in Washington State
At the end of May, 26 counties were in Phase 2, with the remainder in Phase 1.
This week, we now see that many counties have moved to Phase 3, while only a handful remain in Phase 1. Most of the state remains in Phase 2, including most of the I-5 corridor.
COVID-19 Workplace Safety Requirements
As we heard from Jenn Truong in her COVID 19 from the Legal Perspective presentation last month, WISHA inspectors can force your business or job site to close if they find you’re not in full compliance with COVID-19 Reopening guidance. Inspectors can issue a cease-and-desist order preventing your company from performing any work, just as they would for any situation where “there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result to any employee” (RCW 49.17.130).
L&I has posted a summary of the minimum requirements for all employers in Washington state.
Most industries have further requirements. And, many industries have different requirements for each phase of reopening. Here’s a look at the requirements for Approach clients, as of June 24:
Industries with specific guidance in Washington State
You can find industry-specific guidance on the Governor Inslee website
Remember: even if your industry doesn’t have specific guidance listed, the minimum guidance for all employers still applies!
L&I workers’ comp claims during COVID-19
Washington state has announced widespread staff furloughs in response to predictions that revenue will be down by more than $8 billion. L&I will be impacted by this, most likely with 4-day work weeks in July, followed by monthly furlough days after that.
The Approach offices will remain open full-time so you can reach your Retro Coordinator as usual. However, we will need to be mindful that response times the from L&I claims managers will be slower than usual.
Also, the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals will continue to hold telephone and CourtCall hearings only (no in-person hearings) at least through the end of August.
More COVID-19 information for employers
Approach is cataloguing all of our COVID-19 information at https://www.pitb.com/employer-resources-for-covid-19-coronavirus/. Look here for Ask Approach articles, Toolbox Talks, and webinar recordings to help you navigate this situation for you and your employees. Of course, breaking news and new workplace requirements will come from Washington state at https://www.coronavirus.wa.gov/.
Contact your Approach retro coordinator or the Approach safety team if you have questions about claims or safety requirements during this time.