Emergency Temporary Standards to Protect California Workers from COVID-19

Last Updated on December 8, 2020 by bigfish-admin

New Cal OSHA emergency regulations requiring employers to have a COVID-19 Injury and Illness Prevention Policy to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19 are in effect now, and here is what you need to know.  

The Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board unanimously adopted emergency temporary standards to protect workers from COVID-19 related hazards. The emergency standard was approved by the Office of Administrative Law on November 30th and is effective immediately. 

The temporary standards apply to most workers in California not covered by Cal OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard. Under these new regulations, employers must have a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan that includes the following: 

A system for communicating information to employees about COVID-19. 

  • prevention procedures
  • testing
  • symptoms and illnesses
  • a system for employees to report exposures without fear of retaliation 

Identification and evaluation of workplace hazards.

  • screening employees for symptoms
  • identifying workplace conditions and practices that could result in potential exposure 

Investigating and responding to cases in the workplace. 

  • responding immediately to potential exposures by following steps to determine who may have been exposed
  • provide notices within one business day about potential exposures
  • offering testing to workers who may have been exposed 

Correcting COVID-19 hazards. 

  • correcting unsafe conditions and workplace practices 
  • providing effective training and instructions

Physical distancing & face coverings. 

  • implementing procedures to ensure workers stay at least six feet apart 
  • providing face coverings and ensuring they are worn 

Adopting site-specific strategies.

  • changes to the workplace 
  • changes to work schedules 
  • providing personal protective equipment to reduce virus exposure 

Positive COVID-19 case. 

  • positive case or illness recording requirements 
  • making the COVID-19 Prevention Plan accessible to employees and employees’ representatives 

Removal of workers due to COVID-19.

  • removal of COVID-19 exposedworkers from the workplace with measures to protect pay and benefits 
  • removal of COVID-19 positiveworkers from the workplace with measures to protect pay and benefits 

Return criteria. 

  • criteria for employees to return to work after recovering from COVID-19 

Notification and testing. 

  • requirements for testing and notifying public health departments of 
    • workplace outbreaks (3 or more cases in a workplace in a 14-day period) 
    • major outbreaks (20 or more cases within a 30-day period) 

For further guidance, California employers can refer to the model policy provided for use by Cal OSHA.

For all employers operating outside of California, refer to standards outlined by OSHA for further guidance on COVID policies.

Big Fish will continue to report on further developments to this law and other related legislation nationwide. Information contained in this publication is intended for educational or informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is this a substitute for the professional opinion of an attorney. For additional assistance with how to prepare to comply with these new requirements, contact Big Fish Employer Services.

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