Department of Labor & Industries Amends Emergency Rule for Temporary Housing of Workers
Managing temporary housing for workers has been a significant undertaking for employers since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. In May of 2020, the Washington State Department of Health and the Department of Labor & Industries issued emergency rules to provide employers with guidance on how to keep employees safe during the pandemic. They recently revised the initial emergency rules effective January 21, 2022.
The revised rules require employers that are housing temporary workers to educate all occupants, including those that are fully vaccinated, on how and where they can get answers to vaccine questions. This revision was made to ensure that temporary workers have information relating to vaccines and boosters that is readily available. The revised rule also requires screening and isolation of all suspected and positive cases of Covid-19, irrespective of worker vaccination status. The rule was also revised to state that following exposure, individuals who are “up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations self-monitor for symptoms and wear a mask during the post-exposure period. These updates reflect the recent medical information regarding transmission of Covid-19 among fully vaccinated individuals. The new amendment also revises the definition of “fully vaccinated” to encompass “current Washington State Department of Health guidance” instead of specific vaccines, although the Department of Health’s guidance for “fully vaccinated” has not changed. This revision should allow employers to follow and enforce the Department of Health’s vaccine and isolation recommendations for workers in temporary housing as the recommendations evolve through the pandemic without any further amendments to the emergency rule.
The revisions to the rule do not change the remaining sections of the rule which are geared toward mitigating the spread of Covid-19 among workers utilizing temporary housing provided by employers. The amendment language can be found here. Providing temporary housing for workers remains a significant undertaking. If you have any questions regarding best practices for temporary housing or questions regarding how to implement your workplace policies regarding temporary housing, please do not hesitate to contact me at (503) 595-6105 or .