COVID-19 Prevention Program
Employers must develop, implement, and maintain a written plan that includes training on policies and procedures, including communication procedures in the event of a potential employee COVID-19 exposure. The plan must identify specific workplace hazards that may expose workers to COVID-19. The new standard and FAQ page go into significant detail regarding the elements must be included in the plan. Cal/OSHA has uploaded a sample plan that can be used as a template. Employers are encouraged to use this template or must otherwise ensure that all of its components are included in a single plan document, such as the employer’s existing Injury Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP).
Employers must keep track of all workers who test positive for COVID-19 and compile a list that includes the name, contact information, occupation, location of work, last day at the worksite, and date of positive test. Within one business day, employers must notify employees and other persons who may have been exposed to that employee in the workplace of the potential exposure without revealing any personal identifying information. In the event of an outbreak of three or more COVID-19 cases in the workplace, the employer must contact the local health department as well.
The new regulations require specific testing based on the number of cases in the workplace.
- After one positive case of COVID-19, the employer must provide free testing during work hours to anyone who was potentially exposed and provide the employees with information about COVID-19 benefits.
- Upon an outbreak (defined as 3 positive cases over 14 days), the employer must provide free testing during work hours to all employees who were present during the outbreak period. One week later, the employer must again provide free testing to all employees and continue testing each week until there are no new cases for 14 days.
- If there is a major outbreak (defined as 20 or more cases over 30 days), the employer must provide free testing during work hours to all employees who were present during the major outbreak period. The employer must continue to provide testing twice each week to those who remain at the workplace until there are no new cases for 14 days. In addition, the employer may be required to install a new air ventilation filtering system.
Employers must maintain regular pay and benefits (including seniority) for those employees who either have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are quarantining due to potential exposure to COVID-19, unless the exposure was not work-related and/or the employee is unable to work. This obligation to pay exposed employees is in addition to eligibility for other employer-provided or COVID-19-related sick leave such as coverage by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) or California law, although such pay and benefits may be used as a setoff. The standard also sets forth employee return-to-work requirements. However, employers cannot require a negative COVID-19 test for employees as a condition for returning to work.
The emergency standard will be enforced through CalOSHA’s regular enforcement process, which can include significant penalties as well as injunctive relief in the event that CalOSHA determines that the COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace poses an imminent danger to employees.