COVID-19 infections among healthcare workers prompts new safety guidelines from L&I, DOH

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TUMWATER, Wash. — Washington Department of Labor and Industries and Department of Health are updating hospital guidance over concerns of healthcare worker safety when dealing with COVID-19 patients.

The hazard alert issued by both departments was the result of a “rise in transmission” in COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers.

According to a joint statement from the departments, this hazard alert realigns hospital requirements, providing new guidance on employee training, proper use of PPE, social distancing, sanitation protocols and infection control.

“Health care workers are on the front lines of the pandemic caring for others,” said L&I DOSH assistant director, Anne Soiza. “This Hazard Alert spells out what hospitals must do to take care of all of their workers to prevent them from getting infected on the job.”

New requirements include:

  • Daily replacement of disposable respirators and procedural masks
  • Prohibiting repeated use of a respirator/mask over the course of a shift or multiple shifts
  • Ensure employees leave and stay home if they feel sick
  • Adequately staff facilities with infection prevention workers
  • Provide space to allow for adequate social distancing
  • Maintain hospital policies to align with new guidance from state/national health officials