Employers required to develop COVID protection plan
Cal/OSHA regulations take effect immediately
December 7, 2020
Cal/OSHA’s emergency regulations requiring employers to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19 are now in effect, following their approval Dec. 1 by the Office of Administrative Law.
“These are strong but achievable standards to protect workers. They also clarify what employers have to do to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19 and stop outbreaks,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker, in a news release.
The emergency standards apply to most workers in California not covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard. The regulations require that employers implement a site-specific written COVID-19 prevention program to address COVID-related health hazards, correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions and provide face coverings. When there are multiple infections or outbreaks at the worksite, employers must provide testing and notify public health departments. The regulations also require accurate recordkeeping and reporting of COVID-19 cases.
As emergency standards, these regulations become effective immediately.
The new regulations require employers to have a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan that addresses the following:
  • System for communicating information to employees about COVID-19 prevention procedures, testing, symptoms and illnesses, including a system for employees to report exposures without fear of retaliation.
  • Identification and evaluation of 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, providing notice within one business day about potential exposures, and offering testing to workers who may have been exposed.
  • Correcting COVID-19 hazards — including correcting unsafe conditions and work practices as well as providing effective training and instruction.
  • Physical distancing — implementing procedures to ensure workers stay at least six feet apart from other people if possible.
  • Face coverings — providing face coverings and ensuring they are worn.
  • Adopting site-specific strategies such as changes to the workplace and work schedules and providing personal protective equipment to reduce exposure to the virus.
  • Positive COVID-19 case and illness recording requirements and making the COVID-19 Prevention Plan accessible to employees and employee representatives.
  • Removal of COVID-19 exposed workers and COVID-19 positive workers from the workplace with measures to protect pay and benefits.
  • Criteria for employees to return to work after recovering from COVID-19.
  • Requirements for testing and notifying public health departments of workplace outbreaks (three or more cases in a workplace in a 14-day period) and major outbreaks (20 or more cases within a 30-day period).
  • Specific requirements for infection prevention in employer-provided housing and transportation to and from work.
For a Cal/OSHA Model COVID-19 Prevention Program and other information on these emergency regulations, visit the ACSA Resource Hub.
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