Cal/OSHA Mandates New COVID-19 Regulations
The Standards Board of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) has unanimously approved emergency COVID-19 regulations designed to protect the state's workers from the novel coronavirus.
These comprehensive regulations, which employers must adhere to lest they face hefty fines, mandate training and the creation and application of a COVID-19 Prevention Program.
The new protective rules include more definitions of what constitutes an outbreak. For instance, a "standard outbreak" is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a workplace in a 14-day period, in which case employers would have to provide testing to every one of their employees who worked during that two-week period. In addition, employers must provide testing at least twice a week in the event of a major outbreak, which is defined as 20 or more positive cases in a 30-day period. And, these requirements would be applicable until a work site goes 14 days without new COVID-19 cases. Employees should not be permitted to return to work until the end of the quarantine, and shall be paid throughout the quarantine period.
Employers must also identify and rectify COVID-19 hazards (with assistance from employees), and require physical distancing and mask wearing as well as improving ventilation and maximizing outdoor air in the workplace.
"These emergency regulations will be in effect for 180 days, and may be extended," says Adam Dombchik, Co-Managing Partner in the law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (GEK). "It is clear that Cal/OSHA wants employers to do the heavy lifting to help prevent the further spread of the virus."
"At GEK, we have seen the devastation caused by COVID-19, not only on workers, but also their families," he continues. "We must remain cautious to protect our workers and their loved ones. This pandemic is not going away soon, but if we are patient and mindful, we will get through this."