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Alert: L&I issued emergency rules on public health emergency reporting and notification

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Labor and Industries’ Division of Safety and Health created new emergency rules derived from Senate Bill 5115 (ESSB 5115), also known as the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA).

The law contains two primary provisions:

  • Provides presumptive workers’ compensation coverage for frontline employees, except for certain healthcare employers, and the presumption of occupational disease may be rebutted by providing a preponderance of evidence;
  • Requires certain reporting requirements enforceable under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act.

The new emergency rule section published on August 10, 2021, contains reporting and notification requirements when there is a public health emergency for an infectious or contagious disease and applies to COVID-19.

  • Covered employee means any employee whose employer is subject to the OSHA 300 log reporting requirement.
  • Reporting of outbreaks to L&I applies when a worksite or workplace with 50 or more employees experience outbreaks of 10 or more employees within a certain timeframe per WAC 296-62-60004
  • NOTE – The report content to L&I should not contain employee names or personal identifying information.
  • The rule under WAC 296-62-60003 affirms employees’ right not to disclose medical conditions or diagnoses to their employers. This new set of emergency rules is silent on whether employers are required to communicate these rules to employees.
  • Written notification to employees of infectious or contagious disease exposure is required under WAC 296-62-60005 regardless of the size of the workforce at each location as long as there are “covered employees.”
  • Employers are required to allow employees’ voluntary use of protective personal equipment as long as the voluntary use does not interfere with the employer’s security requirements, and the device or equipment does not conflict with standards established by the DOH or DOSH for that specific type of equipment per WAC 296-62-601.

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