With California workers trickling back to the workplace, employers have the legal responsibility to create the safest possible work environment to prevent the spreading of COVID-19.
On November 19, 2020, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal/OSHA) approved a measure that implements much stricter safety rules for employers to follow concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. Passing the set of new rules unanimously, California’s agency for establishing workplace safety guidelines enacted the emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations that went into effect at the end of November 2020.
Employees of companies operating in the State of California should be aware of the new workplace safety rules. Employers must do the following to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Create and manage a COVID-19 prevention program
- With input from employees, identify specific Coronavirus hazards
- Conduct contact tracing for every positive case in the workplace
- Find ways to circulate outdoor air inside the workplace
- Follow mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines
- Immediately report new outbreaks
- Never allow a quarantined employee to return to work before the end of 14 days
- Disinfect the workplace daily
Employers operating in California must produce several written elements of their COVID-19 Prevention Program.
Identify and Evaluate Potential COVID-19 Hazards
As one of the key parts of the emergency COVID-19 rules, the requirement to identify and evaluate potential COVID-related health hazards should involve the participation of employees. Without the fear of retribution, employees must be able to perform the following tasks:
- Develop and implement a procedure for the screening of employees, such as temperature checks conducted outside the workplace
- Create policies that help identify workers that have contracted COVID-19
- Complete frequent assessments that detect all areas and activities in the workplace that might expose employees to the virus
- Suggest ways to improve the ventilation of indoor spaces
- Review current policies to enhance worker safety
- Conduct regularly scheduled inspections to ensure compliance with the new emergency workplace safety rules
If you work for an employer that prevents employees from collaborating in preventing the spread of COVID-19, you should speak with a California employment law attorney who has a thorough understanding of the new workplace safety rules.
Cal/OSHA Ramifications of Non-Compliance
Cal/OSHA has the legal authority to penalize employers in California that do not comply with the new workplace safety rules. Fines that vary in size depending on the seriousness of the safety violation represent the most common civil penalty imposed on California employers.
The new California workplace safety rules for COVID-19 remain in effect for six months after the effective date of the new rules. However, Cal/OSHA can extend the emergency order up to 14 months after the effective date. This means for at least until the end of May 2021, California employers must constantly monitor their workplaces for the possible sources that spread the Coronavirus. California employers must also stay current with any changes to the new rules as mandated by Cal/OSHA.
Legal Consequences of Non-Compliance
Since COVID-19 can produce debilitating symptoms, any employee that has contracted the virus in the workplace should consider contacting a California-licensed employment law attorney. Because of the guidelines established by Cal/OSHA, non-compliance with any of the new workplace safety rules can lead to legal consequences for employers that violate the new rules.
PLBSH Law Firm helps clients that work for employers that do not follow the new Cal/OSHA guidelines. We provide legal support by helping clients obtain evidence that demonstrates non-compliance. Call the PLBSH Law firm at (800) 435-7542 or submit the short online form to schedule a free initial consultation.