As of November 30, California has adopted emergency temporary regulations that require employers to take many steps to prevent workers from COVID-19 hazards.
California employers will need to familiarize themselves with these standards quickly. I’ll link to the text of these new regs at the end of this blog post.
The new regs require employers to communicate with workers about COVID-19 prevention measures, evaluate and identify hazards, provide PPE, training and instruction, investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases in the workplace, and report cases and keep accurate records. The standards do not apply to certain workplaces such as hospitals, labs etc that were already coved under regs re aerosol transmissible diseases.
Large employers are likely to be already working on implementing these regs, but I suspect that it will be a heavy lift to educate many small and medium size employers about these regs and bring them into compliance.
Workers’ comp claims departments and defense firms should be alerting their clients to these regs, since compliance may help mitigate further claims exposure. Labor advocates, shop stewards and the like may wish to bring these regs to the attention of HR departments to speed awareness and compliance.
In announcing that the regs were approved by the Office of Administrative Law, Cal/OSHA noted that “Cal/OSHA will convene a stakeholder meeting in December that will include industry and labor representatives to review the requirements of the emergency regulation and solicit feedback and recommend updates.”
One very helpful thing for employers who seek to comply is the “Model COVID-19 Prevention Program” document, which essentially provides a template that can be used by employers as they tailor their COVID prevention program to the specifics of their business.
Here is that template in Word format:
Here is a link to FAQs on the regs:
And here are the regs themselves:
The focus of this blog is the California workers’ comp system, but as I have noted many times before, a culture of employer safety is critical to the well-being of workers.
As we end 2020, the virus appears to be spiraling out of control. Public health systems and medical providers are on the verge of being overwhelmed, and “lockdowns” are being implemented in most of the state.
Clearly, the recent “do what I say, not what I do” behavior of Governor Newsom, the mayors of San Francisco and San Jose, and other prominent politicians is fueling a backlash.That adds to anger and fear among business owners and workers at enterprises teetering on the edge of extinction.
Meanwhile other politicians and media commentators flaunt an anti-science skepticism for their own purposes.
We are on the verge of some very ugly times. Take your pick between medical carnage or economic carnage,.
But whatever you think of all of the sturm and drang re how COVID-19 has been handled at the federal level and in California, responsible mitigation steps by employers are important in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
These regs could help.