On December 1, 2020, Cal/OSHA announced emergency regulations requiring employers to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19 go into effect immediately. These emergency regulations apply to most workers in California and requires the following:
Establish and implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program
Train employees on how COVID-19 is spread, infection prevention techniques, and information regarding COVID-19-related benefits
Provide COVID-19 testing for affected employees and notifications to local health departments during a workplace outbreak
Employers may see this announcement and think "This doesn't make a difference to me. I already follow all the rules passed down by public health and local officials."
How is this different than public health orders?
There is one major difference between the Cal/OSHA emergency COVID-19 regulation and public health ordinances: enforcement. Unlike public health ordinances that depend on public safety for enforcement, Cal/OSHA has their own inspectors for enforcement. The emergency regulation's strict requirements is a signal that Cal/OSHA plans to take workplace transmission of COVID-19 seriously and will not hesitate to hand out fines for employers who do not comply with the regulation.
While many health ordinances put in place can protect employees, their primary objective is to protect the general public. The Cal/OSHA emergency COVID-19 regulation is only concerned with disease transmission between employees and puts a magnifying glass on the steps employers take to protect their employees and the response when an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Employers are now required to provide and pay for testing to affected employees after 3 or more COVID-19 cases are identified in a 14-day period.
Do not get caught by surprise!
There can be major implications to employers if they do not meet the 3 requirements mentioned above. Employers must also plan for the extensive testing required in the case of a workplace outbreak of COVID-19. Safety Nest is hosting webinars that explain the new regulation and how they affect employers. Join us and let us help ensure you maintain a safe and healthy workplace for your employees.