News & Insights

California Safety Agency Imposes Covid-19 Emergency Regulations

Throughout the past few months, COVID-19 cases have continued to rise causing several areas of concern for employers across the nation. On November 18, 2020, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal OSHA”) proposed emergency regulations containing new workplace protocols that provide employers with more comprehensive guidelines to adequately enforce or modify existing safety rules regarding COVID-19. These regulations can be found at California Code of Regulations (CCR), Sections 3205, 3205.1, 3205.2, 3205.3 and 3205.4.

While the implementation of these rules has given employers little time to come into compliance with the new requirements, the Cal OSHA has maintained that many of the requirements are not entirely new and are similar to the guidance issued on measures to address COVID-19 hazards in connection with employers’ Injury Illness and Prevention Program. The main requirements of the rules are that employers must implement an effective COVID-19 prevention program. Some of the new requirements include an employer’s obligation to provide COVID-19 testing, face covers and personal protective equipment to its employees at no cost to them.

The COVID-19 Prevention Program Guidelines applies to all employees and places of employment except (1) places of employment with one employee who does not have contact with other persons; (2) employees working from home; or (3) employees when covered by CCR Title 8, section 5199 pertaining to certain healthcare facilities, services, or operations. 

Cal OSHA has released a Frequently Asked Questions Page that details their expectations for how employers can comply with the new rules. The most significant areas in the FAQ’s are Cal OSHA’s guidance on new requirements for testing, notifications, and employee training.

For example, Cal OSHA specifically states that employers should “offer testing to potentially exposed employees at no cost and during working hours”, as well as inform employees of testing resources. Further, employers must “provide periodic” COVID-19 testing for employees in an “exposed workplace” during an outbreak or major outbreak.

It is anticipated that other states will follow suit with California by enacting additional statutes or regulations. Due to the various regulatory requirements applicable to COVID-19 issues and the ongoing changes to these requirements, employers should be sure to review their COVID practices at least on a bi-weekly basis  to ensure their preventive plan adheres to all federal and state laws.