On April 29, 2020, Governor Inslee authorized a “Limited Phase 1 Construction Restart.”  This is the first phase of the construction restart, and not all construction activity is allowed under Phase 1.  Only the following construction projects are authorized during Phase 1:

  1. Any of the “essential” construction activities that were exempt from the Governor’s original Stay at Home order (i.e. construction supporting “essential” businesses/functions);
  2. Construction that was “in existence” on March 23, 2020, but had been previously stalled by the Governor’s orders;
    1. “In existence” means: (i) any construction activity that a contractor agreed to perform by a contract entered into before March 23, 2020 or (ii) any construction activity authorized by a government permit issued before March 23, 2020.

Additionally, any construction activities must comply with the Phase 1 Construction Restart COVID-19 Job Site Requirements issued by the Governor.  Click here for a copy of the Phase 1 Construction Restart COVID-19 Job Site Requirements.  Make sure to document your compliance with these requirements in case of a site visit or audit of your safety program.

One of the many requirements included in that guidance is that construction workers must maintain a minimum six foot social distance from one another at all times.  The only exception to this rule is work which qualifies as “essential” construction activity (i.e. classification No. 1, above).  On those “essential” projects, the six foot social distancing rule can only be broken if absolutely necessary and if the contractor develops and implements a hazard assessment and control plan identifying appropriate PPE per L&I requirements.

Conversely, if a construction project was re-started under the “in existence” clause (i.e. classification No. 2, above), then the six foot social distancing rule (in addition to all other aspects of the Phase 1 Construction Restart COVID-19 Job Site Requirements) must be followed at all times.  If that newly re-authorized work cannot follow the six foot social distancing rule, then the work cannot currently be performed.

The Department of Labor & Industries has been visiting job sites and issuing citations for violations of the COVID-19 safety requirements.  If your company is performing an “essential” project and will have workers within six feet of one another, make sure that your on-site managers can demonstrate that the project is one of the “essential” projects and that your company has, and is complying with, a hazard assessment and control plan specifically addressing the appropriate PPE for that close-proximity work.

If you have any questions, please contact Seth A. Woolson or Richard A. Davis III in our Construction Practice Group.