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COVID-19 pandemic: California enacts emergency temporary standard

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Sacramento, CA – California’s emergency temporary standard requiring employers to protect workers from COVID-19-related hazards is now in effect after being approved Nov. 30 by the state’s Office of Administrative Law.

The regulations from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health – also known as Cal/OSHA – include employer requirements to implement a written, site-specific COVID-19 prevention program; provide facial coverings to workers; correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions in the workplace; and ensure accurate recordkeeping and reporting of COVID-19 cases.

“These are strong but achievable standards to protect workers,” Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker said in a Dec. 1 press release. “They also clarify what employers have to do to prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19 and stop outbreaks.”

If multiple COVID-19 infections occur at a worksite, employers must provide testing and notify local public health departments. This requirement applies if three or more cases occur in a 14-day period, or 20 or more cases occur over a 30-day period.

The Cal/OSHA Consultation Services Branch is providing training webinars on the ETS for employers and has published a series of FAQs and a one-page fact sheet on the regulations.

The state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board on Nov. 19 approved the ETS by a 6-0 vote prior to the rule’s review and approval by OAL.

The ETS covers most workers not covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard.

Cal/OSHA stated that it plans to conduct a stakeholder meeting in the coming weeks with industry and labor representatives to review the emergency requirements, recommend updates and solicit feedback.

 

California is the fourth state to approve a COVID-19-related ETS, following Michigan, Oregon and Virginia.

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