November 18, 2020
California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board is set to vote this week on a new set of emergency actions that impact how employers must respond to COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace. The emergency temporary standard is aimed at protecting workers across California from exposure to the disease.
The proposed regulation builds on COVID-19 guidance previously issued by several California agencies and provides a clear legal framework for employers to implement effective workplace safety measures.
Among other things, the standard requires employers to:
– Conduct hazard assessments and create a written COVID-19 prevention program, allowing for employee participation.
– Correct COVID-19-related hazards in the workplace.
– Identify and notify all workers exposed to COVID-19-positive individuals.
– Provide testing free of charge to employees in the event of COVID-19-positive cases in the workplace.
– Train employees on COVID-19 prevention.
– Mandate and enforce the wearing of face coverings in the workplace.
– Provide personal protective equipment free of charge where needed; and
– Implement safety measures in employer-provided housing and transportation.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra urged the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt the new standards, saying, “We have to stay vigilant to protect our essential workers and our communities across the state. This temporary emergency standard will help clarify what needs to be done to protect workers and ensure that local authorities have the tools they need to take action. It also requires employers to allow for employee participation in evaluating and correcting COVID-19 exposure hazards.”
If approved, the emergency standards would go into effect within 10 days and would be in place for at least 180 days.
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser