Cal/OSHA Adopts Emergency COVID-19 Regulations
On November 20th, 2020, the Department of Industrial Relations’ Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted emergency temporary standards to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19. These standards were approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and went into effect November 30th, 2020. The Title 8 emergency standards will apply to all employees and places of employment except the following:
1. Places of employment with one employee who does not have contact with others
2. Employees working from home
3. Employees covered by Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 5199 (e.g., health care facilities, facilities designed to receive persons arriving from a scene of hazardous substances, police services, public health services, labs reasonably anticipated to contain aerosol transmissible pathogens, and any other facility determined by OSHA to require the standards in Section 5199).
The 21 pages of new regulations are broken down into five new sections which are summarized below:
- Section 3205: General COVID-19 Prevention
The Regulations amend existing Section 3205 by adding language that requires employers to maintain a written COVID-19 training program and maintain a written COVID-19 prevention program with detailed requirements, which can be incorporated into the employer’s existing Illness and Injury Prevention Program.
- Section 3205.1: Multiple COVID-19 Infections and COVID-19 Outbreaks
The Regulations create a new emergency Section 3205.1, which would apply in the event of multiple COVID-19 infections in the workplace. This Section requires employers that have been identified by a local health department as the location of a COVID-19 outbreak or that have had three or more COVID-19 cases reported in their workplace within a 14-day period to: (1) provide COVID-19 testing to exposed employees at no cost to those employees; (2) exclude COVID-19 infected employees from the workplace; (3) investigate and determine workplace-related factors contributing to the COVID-19 infections; (4) review their COVID-19 policies and procedures and implement changes to prevent further spread in the workplace; and (5) notify the local health department.
- Section 3205.2: Major COVID-19 Outbreaks
The Regulations create a new emergency Section 3205.2. This Section would apply in the event of a major outbreak in the workplace, defined as when there are 20 or more COVID-19 cases reported in an exposed workplace within a 30-day period. It requires employers to: (1) provide COVID-19 testing at no cost to the employee at least twice a week (or more frequently if recommended by the local health department); (2) correct COVID-19 hazards; and (3) comply with the requirements for multiple COVID-19 infections and outbreaks reported in the workplace (as described above).
- Section 3205.3: COVID-19 Prevention in Employer-Provided Housing
The Regulations create a new Section 3205.3, which mandates additional requirements for employers who provide housing to their employees. This Section requires employers to implement: (1) prioritized housing assignments; (2) physical distancing requirements; (3) face covering requirements; (4) cleaning and disinfecting procedures; (5) symptom screening procedures; (6) COVID-19 testing requirements; and (7) an isolation process.
- Section 3205.4: COVID-19 Prevention in Employer-Provided Transportation to and from Work
Finally, the Regulations create a new Section 3205.4, which contains requirements for employers that provide transportation to and from work. With some exceptions, this Section requires employers to implement: (1) prioritized transportation assignments; (2) physical distancing and face covering requirements in employer provided vehicles; (3) symptom screening procedures; (4) cleaning and disinfecting procedures; (5) ventilation requirements; and (6) hand-hygiene requirements.
Due to the fact that these standards were put into place on such short notice most employers will not have a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan by November 30th so Cal/OSHA intends to take an employer’s good faith efforts into account and to offer “a little bit of flexibility” when evaluating compliance with the new standards. Nonetheless, employers should expect the new sections 3205 through 3205.4 to be effective immediately and should get their plan in place.
If you do not yet have your COVID-19 plan we would be happy to put one together for you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.