All COVID-19 Training Requirements

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COVID-19 Safe Workplace Training

Several states currently require employers to provide COVID-19 workplace safety training to employees. This article outlines the state-specific orders, guidelines, and regulations mandating COVID-19 employee training and OSHA’s training recommendation in its revised COVID-19 workplace guidance.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (“the Act”) requires employers to “comply with safety and health standards and regulations issued and enforced either by OSHA or by an OSHA-approved state plan.” Also, the Act’s General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires employers to provide their workers with a “workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

OSHA’s guidance on Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace advises employers to “educate and train workers” on numerous COVID-19 safe work practices. 

Even if not required at the federal level, employers should provide all employees with COVID-19 workplace safety training. Under the Act’s “General Duty Clause,” employers must provide workers with a safe and healthy workplace. Employers can meet this requirement by, in part, training employees on COVID-19 safe work practices. Training employees on safe work practices also demonstrates an employer’s commitment to employee safety and minimizes the risk of government enforcement actions, workers’ compensation claims, and employment litigation.

Multiple States Already Require COVID-19 Safety Training

Several states require employers to provide COVID-19 workplace safety training to employees. Those states include California, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Virginia. Many of these states also mandate the specific content that must be included in the employee training. As multiple employers have learned the hard way, states issue citations to employers who do not provide fully compliant COVID-19 workplace safety training.


COVID-19 Training Requirements in California

California employers are required to provide COVID-19 safe workplace training. Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards require employers to “provide effective training and instruction to employees” on specifically identified topics.

The Temporary Standards apply to “all employees and places of employment” except (1) places of employment with one employee who does not have contact with another person; (2) employees working from home; or (3) employees who are covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard (generally applicable to healthcare facilities).


COVID-19 Training Requirements in Michigan

Michigan employers are required to provide COVID-19 safe workplace training. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has issued COVID-19 Emergency Rules implementing workplace safety requirements for businesses resuming in-person work, including employee training.

Employers must also provide updated training to employees when their COVID-19 preparedness and response plan changes or new information becomes available about the diagnosis or transmission of COVID-19. Employers must maintain training records for at least one year.


COVID-19 Training Requirements in Minnesota

Minnesota’s COVID-19 Universal Guidance for All Businesses and Entities requires employers to train workers on their COVID-19 Preparedness Plan so that “all workers understand and are capable to perform the precautions necessary to protect themselves and their co-workers, their customers, and their visitors.”

New Mexico

COVID-19 Training Requirements in New Mexico
New Mexico employers are required to provide COVID-19 safe workplace training. New Mexico’s COVID-19 Safe Practices for All Employers requires employers to “[t]rain all employees on daily cleaning and disinfecting protocol, hygiene, and respiratory etiquette (e.g., covering coughs).” 


COVID-19 Training Requirements in Oregon

Oregon employers are required to provide COVID-19 safe workplace training. Oregon OSHA’s Rule Addressing COVID-19 Workplace Risks requires nearly all employers to provide COVID-19 workplace safety training. 

The training may be provided remotely or using computer-based models but must be provided in a manner and language understood by employees. Employers must also ensure “the training provides an opportunity for feedback from employees about the topics covered in the training.”


COVID-19 Training Requirements in Virginia

Certain Virginia employers are required to provide COVID-19 safe workplace training. The Virginia Standard For Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19, 16 VAC 25-22 requires employers to provide COVID-19 safety training to all employees when any job hazard or task in the workplace is classified above “lower risk” exposure.

All “lower risk” places of employment must provide employees with basic written or oral information on COVID-19 hazards and measures to minimize exposure. Providing the training required for job hazards or tasks otherwise classified as higher risk also meets this requirement. 

Employers must maintain written certification for each employee trained, including employee name and physical or electronic signature, the training date, and the name of the person or entity that conducted or prepared the training materials. 

Retraining is required when (1) the employer has reason to believe that any affected employee who has already been trained does not have the necessary understanding and skill required, such as changes in the workplace or job tasks performed, (2) there are changes to the employer’s Infectious Disease and Preparedness Plan, or (3) inadequacies in an affected employee’s knowledge or use of workplace control measures indicate the employee has not retained the requisite understanding or skill.

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