Requirements for All Employers Under the Updated Safe Start Plan

On May 29, Gov. Inslee issued a new Safe Start proclamation to continue the phased approach toward recovery that includes requirements for all WA employers.

On May 29, as counties began to reopen, Governor Inslee issued a new Safe Start proclamation to continue the phased approach toward recovery. As part of the phased approach, Governor Inslee issued requirements for all Washington employers as they begin to reopen. Please note that these requirements do not replace the requirements laid out in Proclamation 20-24.1, “Reducing Restrictions on, and Safe Expansion of, Non-Urgent Medical and Dental Procedures.”

The Governor’s Safe Start Plan includes requirements for:

Social distancing: The plan requires employees to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from coworkers and clients when feasible. If social distancing is not feasible, the plan requires barriers such as masks and other proven prevention methods to stop transmission of the virus. As a reminder, this does not replace the PPE requirements of Proclamation 20-24.1.   

Handwashing: Employers are required to provide adequate handwashing stations and supplies for employees and patrons to wash their hands. The department of Labor and Industries (L&I) requires hand washing when arriving at work, taking breaks, using the bathroom, before and after eating, drinking, or using tobacco products, and after touching contaminated surfaces. See handwashing signs from the Department of Health.

Cleaning and sanitizing: Employers must ensure frequent cleaning and disinfection, particularly of high-touch surfaces, of their business. Additionally, L&I stipulates that employers must establish a housekeeping schedule to address frequent cleaning and employers must ensure they have adequate cleaning supplies for scheduled cleaning, and for deep cleaning and sanitizing after a suspected COVID-19 case. You can find cleaning guidance and a shopping list in the ADA Return to Work Toolkit.

Establishing procedures for sick workers: As laid out in in the phased approach to recovery, businesses must identify strategies for addressing ill employees, including requiring COVID-19 positive employees to stay at home while infectious, and potentially restricting employees who were directly exposed to the COVID-19 positive employee. Additionally, employers must follow CDC cleaning guidelines to deep clean after reports of an employee with suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Employee education: The plan requires that employers provide resources to educate employees about COVID-19 in the language that the employee best understands including the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with the virus and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. See printable posters from the CDC and a Coronavirus Employee Training PowerPoint template from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

The Governor’s announcement also comes with a new directive regarding facial coverings. In addition to the requirements regarding PPE laid out in proclamation 20-24.1, beginning June 8, all employees will be required to wear a cloth facial covering, except when working alone in an office, vehicle, at a job site, or when the job has no in-person interaction. Additionally, businesses must post signage strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth facial coverings and are encouraged to require patrons to wear cloth facial coverings. Find a CDC sign about wearing cloth face coverings here.

You can find more information regarding the Safe Start Proclamation from Governor Inslee at Safe Start Washington: A Phased Approach to Recovery and a summary of workplace requirements from the Department of Labor and Industries at COVID-19 Prevention: General Workplace Requirements. You can also read a Summary of Requirements for Return to Providing Non-Urgent Care from WSDA (login required).