Almond Alliance of California — On November 19, 2020, the California Occupational Health & Safety Standards Board unanimously adopted 21 pages of emergency Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) safety regulations. The Regulations are broad. They apply to all employees and places of employment except:
- Those places of employment with one employee who does not have contact with others.
- Employees working from home.
- Employees covered by Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 5199 (e.g., health care facilities, police services, labs, etc.).
“Cal/OSHA has posted FAQs and a one-page fact sheet on the regulation, as well as a model COVID-19 prevention program. Employers are invited to participate in training webinars held by Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services branch. 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.
While Cal/OSHA is willing to meet and work with employers during the implementation of this standard, they have provided some materials that may be helpful, which include FAQs, a fact sheet, a model COVID-19 prevention plan, training modules, and other support and consultation services to assist with compliance. They have indicated that they plan to be reasonable and flexible during implementation, meaning they will consider your good faith effort to comply and evidence of working towards compliance.
The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) has approved the temporary emergency standards on COVID-19 workplace hazards, and the regulation is in effect now. The Almond Alliance continues to express our members’ perspective, so please continue to send us examples of the challenges of compliance. This is critical as we advocate for revisions to the regulations.
The Almond Alliance intends to be part of the stakeholder meeting and will continue to engage and monitor the issue and will provide updates to members as new developments occur.
Employers may consider the following to prepare for these changes:
- A thorough review of all obligations required and how they apply to your employment arrangements at each workplace.
- HR and management training in implementation and administration.
- A proper record of compliance.
- Updated policies and Illness and Injury Prevention Programs.
Cal/OSHA’s emergency regulations requiring employers to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19 are now in effect, following their approval yesterday by the Office of Administrative Law.
“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,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker.
The emergency standards apply to most workers in California not covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard. The regulations require that employers implement a site-specific written COVID-19 prevention program to address COVID-19 health hazards, correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions and provide face coverings. When there are multiple COVID-19 infections or outbreaks at the worksite, employers must provide COVID-19 testing and notify public health departments. The regulations also require accurate recordkeeping and reporting of COVID-19 cases.
As emergency standards, these regulations become effective immediately.
“We understand the need to educate and assist employers as they implement the new provisions of the emergency standards,” Parker noted. “For employers who need time to fully implement the regulations, enforcement investigators will take their good faith efforts to implement the emergency standards into consideration. However, aspects such as eliminating hazards and implementing testing requirements during an outbreak are essential.”
Cal/OSHA has posted FAQs and a one-page fact sheet on the regulation, as well as a model COVID-19 prevention program. Employers are invited to participate in training webinars held by Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services branch.
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.
Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers and workers who have questions or need assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at 800-963-9424.
Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices.