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CAL/OSHA RELEASES A NEW SET OF FAQs ON COMPLIANCE WITH THE ETS
On January 8, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) revised its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Frequently Asked Questions. Specifically, DIR provided answers to 38 new questions. They also added seven new subheadings, apparently in an effort to make the FAQs more reader-friendly.
On January 26, Cal/OSHA also added to its list of answers to the ever-growing number of frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standard. In this case, answers were posted to questions regarding how to arrange for workplace COVID-19 testing, found at new Testing Q&A numbers 10 and 11.
Cal/OSHA added an additional response regarding Exclusion Pay and Benefits on March 10.
FED-OSHA ISSUES NEW COVID-19 PROGRAM
On January 29, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced the release of the ordered revised guidance, “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace”. As noted by the DOL, “Implementing a coronavirus prevention program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The guidance announced today recommends several essential elements in a prevention program.”
The new Guidance is part of President Biden's January 21 Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety.
On March 12, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a national emphasis program (NEP) focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.
CALIFORNIA COURT DENIES REQUESTS TO ENJOIN EMERGENCY TEMPORARY STANDARD
On February 25, the Superior Court for the County of San Francisco denied requests from the National Retail Federation and the Western Growers Association to delay enforcement of the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Barring an appeal, this means the ETS will be in place at least until September of this year.
CALIFORNIA LABOR & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY LAUNCHES COVID-19 SITE FOR EMPLOYER COMPLIANCE AND WORKER INFORMATION
California's Labor & Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) announced on February 17 that is has launched a new Employer Portal, a one-stop hub for California employers to quickly find up-to date state and local county COVID-19 guidance by business industry. The Portal is one part of a larger effort to educate employers and workers as to their rights and responsibilities under various laws and regulations relating to keeping workplaces safe. For more see: Together, we can work safer.
Employers should utilize this and other resources with the understanding that LWDA and other state agencies are not providing legal advice and that guidances and FAQs, while educational, are not regulations. As to the specific new LWDA initiative, there is additional information important for compliance with Assembly Bill 685 (Reyes) on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) website (referenced above). Employers are also cautioned to review whether supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) may be required in a local jurisdiction in which you operate. Local SPSL information is not available at the LWDA site.
STANDARDS BOARD COVID-19 PREVENTION EMERGENCY TEMPORARY STANDARD (ETS) NOW IN PLACE
Following approval by the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on November 30, emergency regulationsof the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) are now in effect.
The rules remain inconsistent with Assembly Bill 685 (Reyes) relating to employer notice and other issues. The regulations may also complicate notice requirements under Senate Bill 1159 (Hill)relating to the presumption of compensability under Labor Code Section 3212.88.
AB 685 became effective January 1, 2021. The DIR has published a an informative page on the requirements of AB 685.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) also published FAQs and Definitions to aid in AB 685 compliance. These should be read in conjunction with the new IIPP and reporting requirements in the ETS.
Employers should immediately begin assessing their existing safety programs, in particular their IIPPs, to ensure compliance with the new regulations.