Cal/OSHA Implements Emergency Regulations to Protect Workers from COVID-19

In order to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has implemented emergency regulations that require employers to implement a site-specific written COVID-19 prevention program to address COVID-19 health hazards, correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions and provide face coverings.

“These are strong but achievable standards to protect workers. They also clarify what employers have to do to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19 and stop outbreaks,” says Cal/OSHA chief Doug Parker.

The written elements of a COVID-19 prevention program are required to include:

  • A system for communicating. Companies must:
    • Ask employees to report COVID-19 systems, exposures or potential hazards without fear of reprisal;
    • Describe procedures or policies for accommodating employees with medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness;
    • Provide information about access to COVID-19 testing; and
    • Communicate information about COVID-19 hazards and the employer’s COVID-19 policies and procedures to employees and others within contact with the workplace.
  • The identification and evaluation of COVID-19 hazards. Companies must:
    • Allow for employee participation in the identification and evaluation of COVID-19 hazards;
    • Develop and implement a process for screening employees for and responding to employees with COVID-19 symptoms;
    • Develop COVID-19 policies and procedures to respond effectively and immediately to individuals at the workplace who are a COVID-19 case to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission; and
    • Conduct a workplace-specific identification of all interactions, areas, activities, processes, equipment and materials that could potentially expose employees to COVID-19 hazards. Employers shall treat all persons, regardless of symptoms or negative COVID-19 test results, as potentially infectious.

Requirements for investigating and responding to COVID-19 cases in the workplace, correcting COVID-19 hazards, training, physical distancing, employer-provided face covering and return to work criteria were also put in place. Click here for more information.

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