COVID-19, Returning to the Workplace - Washington

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    The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries requires that all employers must take the following steps to protect employees:

    • Train you on specific protective measures required at your workplace.

    Included below is the basic employee training on Covid-19 infection protection for Washington State employees

    What is the coronavirus (Covid-19) virus?

    • It is a virus related to other coronaviruses that cause the common cold, but can cause much more serious health effects.
    • It is highly contagious, spreading from person to person.
    • In just a few months, it has infected millions of people worldwide.

    What are the symptoms of infection?

    • COVID-19 typically causes mild respiratory illness, but can cause severe disease, including pneumonia-like illness.
    • Typical symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
    • Other symptoms are chills, muscle aches, sore throat, loss of sense of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
    • Symptoms begin 2-14 days after exposure.
    • Some people have no symptoms.

    How is Covid-19 spread?

    • It is spread from person to person mainly through respiratory droplets from someone who is infected.
    • It can spread to others from coughing, sneezing, singing and even talking.
    • It also can spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.
    • Infected people without symptoms can spread the virus

    What to do if you feel sick

    • If you believe you may have the coronavirus, stay home and call your healthcare provider.
    • If you have been infected, you likely had no symptoms for several days, and you may have passed the infection onto coworkers.
    • Inform your employer, so they can determine who you may have been in contact with at work.

    Who is at risk at work?

    Extremely High Risk:

    • Healthcare workers treating or caring for coronavirus infected patients.
    • EMT/ambulance employees transporting infected persons.

    High Risk:

    Dental workers working on patients known or suspected to be infected with coronavirus.

    Medium Risk:

    • Any job requiring you to work either:
    • several times a day within 6 feet of others for several minutes at a time without physical barriers or other prevention measures in place;


    • in a room with 3-6 coworkers providing personal services to healthy clients wearing a face covering.
    • Examples: grocery store stockers, public transit drivers, kitchen workers, hair salons

    Low Risk:

    • Jobs where you can mostly stay at least 6 feet away from coworkers; only needing to briefly pass by them a few times a day.

    Negligible (very low) Risk:

    • When you work alone, or work around but separate from several other people; and you only pass by them once or twice a day.

    How to protect yourself and others

    • Keep physical distance of at least 6 feet.
    • Practice frequent hand washing for 20 seconds and/or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    • Frequently sanitize work surfaces and tools.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes and wear a face mask.
    • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Stay home if you are sick and avoid co-workers who appear sick.

    Face Coverings, Masks, and Respirators

    • All three help prevent risk for spreading the virus to others.
    • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 40% of infections come from people with no symptoms.
    • Depending on your job, level of risk, and whether prevention measures like physical barriers are used, you may be required to wear a face covering, mask, or respirator.

    Face coverings, masks, and respirators–what’s the difference?

    • Homemade cloth face coverings for low risk jobs. Keeps droplets (saliva particles) from escaping into the air.
    • Purchased face coverings (many types) for low-risk jobs. Keeps droplets from escaping into the air.
    • Disposable surgical-style mask for medium-risk jobs. Keeps droplets from escaping into the air.
    • NIOSH-approved N-95 respirator for high and extremely high-risk jobs. Protects the wearer from inhaling droplets already in the air.

    What your employer must do to protect you

    • Provide hand-washing and sanitizing supplies.
    • Set up physical distancing and control customer flow.
    • Install barriers between workers where feasible.
    • Send home any worker who appears infected.
    • Provide personal protective equipment such as facemasks or gloves as needed for the activity being done.
    • Train you on specific protective measures required at your workplace.

    Worker Rights

    You have the right to:

    Raise a safety or health concern with your employer or  L & I – DOSH, request personal protective equipment, or report a work-related hazard, including COVID-19.

    Receive information and training on job hazards in your workplace.

    Submitting a safety hazard concern to L & I -DOSH

    Or call 1-800-423-7233

    Specific guidelines/Resources for various workplaces

    Coronavirus Prevention – summary of general workplace requirements

    Coronavirus Prevention in Agriculture & Related Industries

    Food Processing-Warehouse Coronavirus Fact sheet

    Coronavirus (Covid-19) Protecting Grocery Store Workers

    Which mask for Which Task?