Employment Law Alert: New Cal-OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Regulations

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has adopted new temporary regulations on COVID-19 infection prevention. These emergency standards were approved on November 30, 2020 and became effective immediately.

The emergency temporary standard applies to all employers, employees, and to all places of employment with three exceptions: (1) workplaces where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people; (2) employees who are working from home; and (3) employees who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation.

Among other requirements, the emergency regulations require that employers develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program, which may be integrated into the employer’s existing Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or maintained in a separate document. The written COVID-19 Prevention Program must include the following elements:

  1. System for communicating
  2. Identification and evaluation of COVID-19 hazards
  3. Investigating and responding to COVID-19 cases in the workplace
  4. Correction of COVID-19 hazards
  5. Training and instruction
  6. Physical distancing
  7. Face coverings
  8. Other engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment
  9. Reporting, recordkeeping, and access
  10. Exclusion of COVID-19 cases
  11. Return to work criteria

Cal/OSHA has posted a Model COVID-19 Prevention Plan on its website, as well as FAQs explaining in more detail the requirements for many of the above requirements.

California employers will need to immediately prepare a written COVID-19 prevention plan in compliance with the emergency regulations, and also comply with the other requirements in the new regulations, including notice, recordkeeping and recording of COVID-19 cases.