By James L. Curtis, Helen M. McFarland, Patrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: The State of Washington’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) just enacted Emergency COVID-19 Safety Rules on “Prohibited Business Activities and Conditions for Operations.”

In a first-of-its-kind emergency rulemaking, DOSH enacted an emergency rule that, on its face, allows the agency to cite Washington employers who fail to follow the patchwork of rules and guidance related to COVID-19, as set out by the State of Washington and associated safety and health authorities. According to DOSH, the purpose of the emergency rulemaking is to ensure employers are adequately implementing safety and health rules for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergency rule requires employers to cease prohibited business activities and come into compliance with requirements under the State’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy Proclamation, and amendments under RCW 43.06.220 (Emergency Proclamation), including provisions:

  • Prohibiting employees from working where a business activity is prohibited by an emergency proclamation; and
  • Requiring employers to comply with all conditions for operation required by the Emergency Proclamation, Governor Inslee’s Safe Start phased reopening plan and related guidance.

Effective May 26, 2020, the emergency rule renders all guidance related to business operations during COVID-19 mandatory. According to DOSH, the emergency rule is intended to “clarify that restrictions and conditions on business activities” under the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, are “also health and safety requirements and that employers can be subject to a citation and monetary penalties for violations.”

The emergency rule is set to expire on September 23, 2020.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.