On September 15, 2022, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“CAL/OSHA”) will hold a public hearing to address its draft proposed COVID-19 Permanent Standard regulations (“Permanent Standard”). As it appears likely that the state’s COVID-19 protocols are here to stay for the foreseeable future, California employers will need to continue to comply with the state’s COVID-19 regulations and enforce them in the workplace.
Unlike the Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) that are currently in effect, the Permanent Standard does not state that employers must maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program (“CPP”). However, the Permanent Standard does say that an employer’s COVID-19 procedures must either be addressed in the employer’s written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (“IIPP”) or maintained in a separate document. As such, it appears that employers should either maintain their CPP or incorporate it into their IIPP. Under the current ETS, the employer’s prevention program must address the following list of COVID-19-specific training:
- Employer policies and procedures to protect employees from COVID-19 hazards and how to participate in the identification and evaluation of those hazards.
- Information regarding COVID-19-related benefits, either from the employer or from federal, state, or local governments, that may be available to employees impacted by COVID-19.
- The fact that COVID-19 is an infectious disease that can be spread through the air when an infectious person talks or vocalizes, sneezes, coughs, or exhales; that COVID-19 may be transmitted when a person touches a contaminated object and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth, although that is less common; and that an infectious person may show no symptoms.
- Proper use of face coverings and the fact that face coverings are not respiratory protective equipment.
- The conditions under which face coverings must be worn at the workplace.
- That employees can request face coverings from the employer at no cost to the employee and can wear them at work regardless of vaccination status, without fear of retaliation.
- That respirators such as N95s are more effective at preventing COVID-19, an airborne disease.
- The employer’s policies for providing respirators, and the right of employees who are not fully vaccinated to request a respirator for voluntary use, without fear of retaliation and at no cost to employees.
- When respirators are provided for voluntary use, how to properly wear them and perform a seal check, and the fact that facial hair interferes with a seal.
- The importance of frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds and use of hand sanitizer when handwashing facilities are not available.
- The symptoms of COVID-19 and the importance of not coming to work and of getting tested if an employee has symptoms.
- Information about the employer’s COVID-19 policies; how to access COVID-19 testing and vaccination; and the fact that vaccination is effective at preventing COVID-19, protecting against both transmission and serious illness or death.
As it is highly likely that CAL/OSHA will soon adopt most, if not all of its proposed COVID-19 Permanent Standard regulations, California employers should plan on maintaining their COVID prevention programs, including a complaint workplace training program. Clear Law Institute’s interactive online COVID-19 Safe Workplace training helps employers navigate the rapidly evolving requirements and comply with CAL/OSHA’s mandatory training guidelines, as well as other state and federal requirements.
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Clear Law Institute is not a law firm and does not practice law. No attorney-client relationship is created by using Clear Law Institute’s training or consulting services.