Recently, the California Division of Occupation Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) announced proposed temporary COVID-19 regulations, which are up for review and vote on November 19, 2020. The regulations would apply to all employees and places of employment with very limited exceptions, which include, worksites with one employee who does not have contact with other persons, or employees working from home. The proposed regulations provide extensive requirements for employers to provide training, develop policies, and investigate and mitigate potential hazards.
One major aspect of the proposed regulations is the requirement for employers to develop and implement a written “COVID-19 Prevention Program.” The Prevention Program must include a policy that advises employees that they must report COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, and possible hazards at the workplace without fear of reprisal. Further, there are several points of information that must be provided to the employees, including a description of the symptoms of COVID-19, and how to access COVID-19 testing.
Employers are also required to develop and implement a process of screening for and responding to employees with COVID-19 symptoms. This includes having a policy and procedure for effectively and immediately responding to a positive case to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace. Additionally, employers must analyze and evaluate potential risks of exposure inside the workplace and identify all interactions, areas, activities, processes, equipment, and materials that could expose employees to COVID-19 hazards. Employers are required to develop and implement sanitization controls and the use of Personal Protective Equipment, which includes ensuring physical distancing and the use of face coverings, developing a sanitization policy and providing further hand sanitizing and washing stations.
The Prevention Program has specific requirements for investigating and responding to COVID-19 cases in the workplace, including investigating the first date an employee experienced symptoms, determining the date of the positive test, and the day, and time the employee was last present in the worksite, and who may have been exposed. There are notice requirements both to employees and local health departments that must be complied with along with isolation and testing obligations.
Significantly, the regulations imposed increased leave requirements for employees who are excluded from work under the regulations, but are otherwise able to work. For the duration of their isolation period, those employees must have their earnings, seniority, and all other employee rights and benefits, maintained as if they were still working.
The regulations also address employer obligations when the worksite suffers an outbreak of 3 or more cases within a 14 day period, or if the workplace is considered a major COVID-19 outbreak, suffering 20 or more cases within a 30 day period. In addition, the regulations contain new and potentially burdensome requirements for employer provided housing and transportation.
While the above are the highlights of some significant aspects of the proposed regulations, they are detailed and contain numerous specific obligations for an employer, including training, notice, and recordkeeping requirements.
RPNA will monitor the results of the upcoming vote and provide our clients with an update. In the meantime, if your company has any questions about these extensive regulations, please contact Nicholas Roxborough at (818) 992-9999, ext. 222, Drew Pomerance at ext. 212, Michael Adreani, at ext. 234, Marina Vitek, at ext. 236, or Trevor Witt, at ext. 224.