US | COVID-19 | California: OAL Approves Cal/OSHA Emergency COVID-19 Standard

On November 30, 2020 the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved Cal/OSHA’s emergency COVID-19 standard. The standard imposes a number of requirements on employers to prevent and respond to COVID-19 infections in workplaces. The rule is effective immediately and set to expire on October 21, 2021 unless extended or made permanent.

The regulation requires that employers create a written COVID-19 Prevention Program, which can be included as part of the employer’s Injury and Illness Program. The program should include and require the employer to do the following:

  • identify and evaluate COVID-19 hazards, communicate those hazards to employees and describe how employees can respond to those hazards, provide effective procedures to investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases in the workplace such as testing, training and instruction, and correcting existing hazards to COVID-19.
  • Give notice of any potential COVID-19 exposures to employees and independent contractors who might had exposure within one business day that does not reveal personal identifying information.
  • require employees to maintain physical distance and encourage remote and telework where possible, wear face coverings indoors and if working less than 6 feet apart outdoors except in certain circumstances such as if an employee has a medical condition that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering, and implement other engineering and administrative controls that can reduce exposure to COVID-19.
  • Exclude cases of COVID-19 from the workplace as well as employees who have known exposure to COVID-19 cases for 14 days after exposure
  • Include and enforce return to work criteria that follows the benchmarks established in the regulations.
  • Report information about COVID-19 cases at the workplace to the local health department whenever required by law.

The regulation also includes requirements on how employers should respond to multiple and large COVID-19 outbreaks in their workplaces. This includes requiring testing to all employees who were at the workplace on the day of exposure and notifying the local health department of the outbreak. The regulation also requires that employers take aggressive measures to correct the COVID-19 hazards such as halting all operations and/or introducing improved ventilation and air filtration systems.


Sources:8 CCR 3205, General Industry Safety Orders, COVID-19 Prevention, November 30, 2020. ​


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