December 3, 2020

California Becomes Fourth State to Adopt Emergency Standards for COVID-19

COVID-19 emergency temporary standards from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) went into effect on Nov. 30. The newly approved standards require employers in the state to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19 by implementing a site-specific written COVID-19 prevention program, correcting unsafe or unhealthy conditions, and providing face coverings. Employers must also train workers on how COVID-19 is spread and infection prevention techniques, and provide information regarding benefits that may be available to employees affected by COVID-19. In addition, Cal/OSHA’s emergency standards outline requirements related to recordkeeping and reporting of COVID-19 cases, and requirements for testing and notifying public health departments when there are multiple infections or major outbreaks.

A model COVID-19 prevention program (.doc file) developed by Cal/OSHA is intended to assist employers with developing their own written programs. A frequently-asked-questions page and fact sheet (PDF) provide further details about the new emergency standards.

As of Dec. 3, California has reported nearly 1,246,000 total cases of COVID-19, according to CDC. Over the last seven days, California’s rate of 36.8 cases per 100,000 population is lower than the average of 49.9 per 100,000 for the U.S. as a whole.

California is the fourth state to adopt emergency standards related to the pandemic, following Virginia, Michigan, and Oregon. Virginia’s emergency temporary standard went into effect on July 27, Michigan’s on Oct. 14, and Oregon’s on Nov. 16.