Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one area of significant focus for state legislators during the 2021 legislative session was on legislation creating additional protections for workers. Many legislators also had an interest in establishing protections to be in place in the event of a future public health emergency.
These new laws, ESSB 5115 and ESSB 5190, are in effect now. WSHA recommends all hospitals and health systems carefully review the new laws and the recently published WSHA bulletin to determine specific applicability. Both ESSB 5115 and ESSB 5190 contain a number of new requirements, including a presumption of occupational disease for workers’ compensation, a new pathway for certain health care workers to access unemployment insurance benefits during some circumstances involving quarantine, certain protections for high-risk employees, and new notifications to the Department of Labor & Industries and employees. WSHA’s Government Affairs team worked extensively throughout the session to do our best to help mitigate the most significant concerns and improve these bills to make them more workable for hospitals and health systems.