On Monday, November 30, 2020, Cal/OSHA’s temporary emergency regulations requiring employers to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19 went into effect. These regulations require employers to implement a site-specific written COVID-19 prevention plan to address COVID-19 health hazards, correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions and provide face coverings. When there are multiple COVID-19 infections or outbreaks at the worksite, employers must provide COVID-19 testing and notify public health departments. The regulations also require accurate recordkeeping and reporting of COVID-19 cases.
The emergency temporary standard applies to all employers, employees, and to all places of employment with three exceptions:
- Workplaces where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people
- Employees who are working from home
- Employees who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation
Cal/OSHA has posted FAQs and a one-page fact sheet on the regulation, as well as a model COVID-19 prevention program. Employers are invited to participate in training webinars held by Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services branch.
To protect a firm against claims, it is recommended that all employees sign a training acknowledgement form. Ensuring all employees are trained in procedures is a requirement of Cal/OSHA and several other state and county ordinances.
Many of the emergency provisions are already required under employers’ Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPP), including the requirement to identify and address hazards, use of face coverings, and physical distancing. The emergency regulation requires employers to implement the following in accordance with their written plan:
- Communication to employees about the employer’s COVID-19 prevention procedures
- Identify, evaluate and correct COVID-19 hazards
- Physical distancing of at least six feet unless it is not possible
- Use of face coverings
- Use engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment as required to reduce transmission risk
- Procedures to investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases in the workplace
- Provide COVID-19 training to employees
- Provide testing to employees who are exposed to a COVID-19 case, and in the case of multiple infections or a major outbreak, implement regular workplace testing for employees in the exposed work areas
- Exclusion of COVID-19 cases and exposed employees from the workplace until they are no longer an infection risk
- Maintain records of COVID-19 cases and report serious illnesses and multiple cases to Cal/OSHA and the local health department, as required
For more details and the most updated information about this emergency regulation, visit California Department of Industrial Relations Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Guidance and Resources page.