In the effort to mitigate the spread of COVID as California braces for rapidly increasing infection rates, Cal-OSHA has approved temporary emergency regulations effective immediately. The regulations will be in place for 180 days and affects all businesses except for those with just one employee who does not have contact with other people, employees working exclusively from home, and those covered by California’s Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) standards such as first responders and medical facilities.
The regulations require each employer to do the following:
1. Draft and implement a COVID-19 Prevention Program and provide training;
2. Identify COVID-19 hazards with the help of employees and correct them;
3. Investigate COVID-19 cases, notify and provide testing to potentially exposed employees;
4. Require physical distancing and mask wearing, improve ventilation, and maximize outdoor air;
5. Don’t allow employees back in the workplace until quarantine ends, and pay employees throughout the quarantines;
6. Record, report, and allow access to information as required by AB-685 and the new emergency regulations;
7. Report all outbreaks to the public health department and provide continuous testing to employees;
8. Employer provided housing must space beds, eliminate bunk beds, and disinfect daily; and
9. Employer provided transportation requires screening workers before boarding, distance sitting, and face masks.
Below are some highlights as to what these new regulations require:
- The emergency requirements, unlike previous guidance, carry penalties for each violation. Cal-OSHA is aggressively pursuing compliance. The penalties start at $13,000 for general violations and can go as high as $132,000 for willful negligence.
- Employers are required to provide face coverings to employees.
- Employees who test positive for COVID can return to work only if the following conditions have been met:
1. More than 24 hours have passed since employee last had a fever of 100.4 degrees or more without the assistance of fever reducing medication;
2. COVID symptoms have improved; and
3. At least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared.
- If an employee has tested positive but never developed COVID-19 symptoms, they shall not return to work until a minimum of 10 days have passed since the date of specimen collection of their first positive COVID-19 test.
- If an employee has been exposed to someone who actively has COVID, they must quarantine for 14 days from date of last exposure.
- Employers cannot ask for proof of a negative test or a doctor’s note to allow an employee back to work.
- It is mandatory that employers provide a training to employees about the company’s policies, procedures, and benefits related to COVID.
- Employers have an affirmative duty to evaluate air flow and ventilation and validate that systems are meeting Cal-OSHA requirements.
- 6-foot distancing, wherever physically possible, has to be enforced by the employer. Barriers such as plexiglass do not alleviate the regulation of 6-foot distancing.
Please click the link below to view Cal-OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Regulations:
While these new emergency regulations may seem burdensome, many employers are already exercising compliance to many of them. We strongly recommend utilizing an employment law or human resources professional to assist in ensuring compliance and with issues as they arise related to these new emergency measures. We are here to support you during these trying times and beyond. Please call us if you have any questions or would like to learn more about the human resources support we provide.