On November 19, 2020, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) proposed sweeping and significant new emergency standards to reduce employee exposure to COVID-19. These standards have been accepted by the Office of Administrative Law and are effective as of November 30, 2020. Accordingly, it is critical that employers familiarize themselves with these new requirements and begin to implement these standards as quickly as possible.
The standards include COVID-19 prevention in the workplace, multiple COVID-19 infections and outbreaks in the workplace, “major” COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace, prevention in employer provided housing, and prevention in employer-provided transportation to and from work. They apply to all California employers and places of employment, except places with one employee who does not have contact with others, employees working from home, or employees in specified health care facilities, services or operations when covered by section 5199.
COVID-19 Prevention Program
Employers are required to establish, implement, and maintain an “effective” written COVID-19 Prevention Program. Under the Program, an employer is responsible for developing a system for communicating about COVID-19, identifying and evaluating COVID-19 hazards, investigating and responding to COVID-19 cases, correcting COVID-19 hazards, providing training and instructions to employees regarding COVID-19, ensuring all employees are physically distanced, providing face coverings, implementing policies regarding personal protective equipment and recordkeeping, ensuring COVID-19 cases are excluded from the workplace, and prohibiting symptomatic employees from returning to work unless certain requirements are met.