Cal/OSHA Issues New Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Rule

Cal/OSHA Issues New Emergency
COVID-19 Prevention Rule

By: D. Keith Dunnagan, Esq.

December 15, 2020

On November 30, 2020, the California Office of Administrative Law approved an emergency Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention regulation. This emergency regulation immediately went into effect and requires California employers to take certain prevention measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. There are a number of obligations that employers of all sizes need to be aware of and there are some exceptions as well.

Businesses with one employee who does not have contact with other persons and employees that work from home are not covered by the emergency regulation. For those businesses that are covered and/or have covered employees, there are a few things to be aware of with this regulation and businesses if they have not already done so – should implement these protocols right away:

Employers must implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan which can be integrated into an Injury and Illness Program or maintained separately. This plan should include:

  • Information on access to COVID-19 testing;
  • Communicate information about COVID-19 hazards and the employers policies and procedures;  
  • Describe policies and procedures related to COVID-19 accommodation;
  • The employer must implement a screening process for to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms;
  • The employer must develop policies and procedures to respond to a workplace case and reduce the risk of transmission; and
  • The employer must conduct periodic inspections to identify potentially unhealthy conditions and must review applicable guidance from the State of California and local health departments related to COVID-19 prevention.

If there is a potential COVID-19 case the employer is required to take steps to determine whether there has been a COVID-19 case, steps in the investigation should include:

  • Determining who may have had contact or exposure to COVID-19;
  • Without revealing any personal information, give notice to employees of potential exposure;
  • Offer testing to employee during working hours at no cost to employees, for employers in Sacramento County you can look at the Sacramento County COVID-19 website for locations where mobile testing can be completed;
  • Investigate whether workplace conditions contributed to exposure risk;
  • Keep all personal information confidential; and
  • Take corrective action to correct any COVID-19 hazards.

Each employer must implement COVID-19 training and instruction protocols.

Take steps to make sure that all employees maintain physical distancing of at least six feet.

Employers are required to provide face coverings for their employees and ensure the face coverings are worn unless an exception applies, which include:

  • When an employee is alone in a room;
  • When the employee is eating or drinking;
  • When an employee cannot wear a face covering because of a medical condition or when the employee is hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person; or
  • Or when a specific task cannot be reasonably performed while wearing a face covering.

Employers must report COVID-19 cases to the local health department when the law requires. Under the new regulation if there have been 3 or more COVID-19 cases in an exposed workplace within 14 days the employer generally must notify the local health department within 48 hours after the employer knows of the COVID-19 cases.

Before an employee may return to work after a COVID-19 absence, the following criteria must be met:

  • At least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4 or higher has resolved without the use of medications;
  • COVID-19 symptoms have improved and at least 10 days have passed since the first COVID-19 symptoms have appeared;
  • If an employee is ordered to quarantine, they may not return to work until the order is lifted or the quarantine period is completed; and
  • A negative COVID-19 test is not required to return to work.

There is a lot more to this new emergency regulation and California businesses should be getting the required policies in place as soon as possible. The attorneys at BPE Law are here to help businesses determine if they are compliant and what steps they may need to take to determine compliance.

The information presented in this Article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every business situation is different. If you or your business is facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your State immediately so that you can determine your best options.

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