Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Mar 27, 2020

WASHINGTON: Home and commercial construction not “essential”


On March 25, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee released a memo clarifying which construction workers are included in the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” list. Only those included on the list are allowed to travel to their essential businesses, according to the governor’s Stay Home—Stay Healthy Order, which seeks to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The governor’s memo states, “In general, commercial and residential construction is not authorized under the proclamation because construction is not considered to be an essential activity.” However, if the construction is (1) related to any of the other essential activities in the Order; (2) supporting public projects (e.g., publicly financed low income housing); or (3) repairing or protecting businesses and homes, then it’s still allowed. The memo specifically authorizes “plumbers, electricians, carpenters, laborers, sheet metal, iron workers, masonry, pipe trades, fabricators, heavy equipment and crane operators, finishers, exterminators, pesticide applicators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC technicians, painting, moving and relocation services, forestry and arborists, and other service providers” to provide services in one of the three areas above. Construction activities deemed essential must satisfy social distancing, sanitation, and personal protective equipment measures established by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations.

Tips: By now, you should have already determined whether you’re an essential business based on the Order and Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers list. If you relied solely on the construction language in the list of essential critical infrastructure workers, review the new memo to see if you still qualify as an essential business. If you’re still unsure, you can seek clarification from the state using its online form.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.