This information is current as of March 24, 2023

COVID-19 remains a recognized respiratory hazard in the workplace that employers will need to continue to address.

Important dates

  • April 3, 2023: the universal mask mandate for healthcare facilities, long term care and correctional facilities expires. See Secretary of Health Order 20-03 (DOH).
  • Until May 11, 2023: the requirements of the Public Health Emergency Reporting and Notification (HELSA) and Voluntary Use of PPE. It expires on May 11, 2023.
  • After May 11, 2023: COVID-19 will remain a recognized respiratory hazard in the workplace.

Until May 11, 2023

Continue to follow the requirements listed in “Basic requirements for all workplaces” that appear below.

Requirements of the Public Health Emergency Reporting and Notification (HELSA) (RCWs 49.17.062 and 49.17.064) and Voluntary Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (RCW 49.17.485) continue to apply:

  • Notify employees of any COVID-19 exposures.
  • Report COVID-19 outbreaks to L&I (if the employer has 50 or more employees).
  • Continue to allow employees to voluntarily wear masks (respirators, medical procedure masks, or cloth face coverings) and PPE as long as it doesn’t create a safety or security issue. Do not discriminate against employees for seeking accommodations for COVID-19.
  • Do not discriminate against high-risk employees for seeking accommodations for COVID-19.
  • For additional information see Reporting and Notification Requirements of HELSA and PPE Usage - Questions & Answers.

Basic Requirements for All Workplaces

These requirements continue into the future (beyond May 11, 2023). COVID-19 will remain a recognized respiratory hazard in the workplace that employers must address by continuing to assess their worker’s exposure risk along with the need for further precautions to prevent exposure.

  • Ensure workers (including those in health care settings) wear appropriate, fit-tested, and NIOSH-approved respirators:
    • When providing care to or working near someone known or suspected to have COVID-19.
    • When required by your COVID-19 hazard assessment.
      Note: When respirators are required, you must have a respirator program (see sample templates) and meet the requirements in Respirators, Chapter 296-842, WAC.
  • Make sure voluntary use of respirators is safe. Workers may use N95 respirators as long as it doesn’t create a safety or security issue. See voluntary use requirements in Respirators, Chapter 296-842, WAC.
  • Ensure your COVID-19 hazard assessment includes the use other PPE. See Safety & Health Core Rules, Chapter 296-800 WAC.
  • Address COVID-19 hazards in the company’s Accident Prevention Program, or equivalent safety program. See Safety & Health Core Rules, Chapter 296-800 WAC.
  • Keep employees who have tested positive or are symptomatic for COVID-19 out of the workplace for at least five days or implement effective controls.
  • For healthcare work, follow CDC recommendations when working near someone with known or suspected COVID-19. See Standard Precautions in Healthcare Settings.
  • Provide hand washing facilities and supplies, and regularly clean and sanitize surfaces.
  • Educate employees about COVID-19 prevention in the language they understand best.
  • Record work-related COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities, on the OSHA 300 log.
  • Report work-related COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities as applicable to DOSH.

After May 11, 2023, employers are encouraged to continue to communicate and notify employees of COVID-19 exposures in the workplace and to allow employees to wear PPE voluntarily.

Note: Employees have a right to safe and healthy work environment. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 49.17 prohibits employers from engaging in safety discrimination against employees. For employees seeking protections, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) may also apply. See Discrimination in the Workplace for more information.

Guidance for Preventing COVID-19 Spread in the Workplace

The level of COVID-19 hazards may change, like if COVID 19 cases increase or if there was an outbreak. Employers will need to reassess the hazard to their employees to determine if additional precautions are needed. Based on a hazard assessment, the following prevention measures may assist employers in managing COVID 19 in their workplaces:

  • Support vaccinations for employees. Updated vaccinations continue to significantly reduce the risk for severe illness.
  • If employees must return within 10 days from becoming sick, they should wear a well-fitting mask at work, such as an N95.
  • Select and provide more protective masks or respirators, when feasible. A properly fitting, NIOSH-approved respirator provides the most protection. This is especially important for those at increased risk for severe disease and for employees in high-risk exposure situations.
  • Physically distance employees from others, especially when the workforce is unvaccinated or when ventilation is poor. Physical barriers may also be used as sneeze guards or to augment physical distancing for face-to-face interactions.
  • Maximize fresh air and air filtration settings on HVAC systems, and improve filtration in areas with poor ventilation (for example, use portable air cleaners with HEPA filters).
  • When possible, use signage, scheduling practices, or other means to encourage sick or symptomatic customers, visitors, and other non-employees to make alternate arrangements for services (e.g., ask for home delivery or postponing their visit) so they don’t need to enter the workplace.


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