In addition to the new laws I described in my last blog, there are some new regulations related specifically to COVID-19.
Cal-OSHA COVID-19 Reporting Requirements
AB 685, effective January 1, 2021, requires that within one business day of being notified by an employee of potential COVID-19 exposure, an employer must provide written notice to all employees of the following:
- Potential exposure
- Information regarding all COVID-19 related benefits available under federal, state and local laws
- Disinfection and safety plan the employer will implement per CDC guidelines
Employers must maintain records of notifications for at least three years.
SB 1159 creates “rebuttable presumption” that, in certain circumstances, illness or death from COVID-19 is work-related. This rebuttable presumption remains in place until January 1, 2023, and applies to all employees who:
- Work for a company with five or more employees
- Test positive during any COVID-19 outbreak at the place of employment
Workers Compensation now also has a new reporting requirement that employers must report to their Claims Administrator within three days that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19.
An employer may dispute the presumption by providing evidence of measures it took to reduce potential transmission of the disease or the employee’s nonoccupational risks of COVID-19 infection.
Testing and Vaccines
Employers may require, as part of their COVID-19 health and safety protocols, that employees who work onsite be periodically tested for COVID-19, as long as the employer pays for the test and adheres to HIPAA and privacy law.
Employers may not, however, require antibody testing.
As for vaccines, the rules on this are not clear yet, so the best thing to do is consult your legal counsel.
COVID-19 Prevention Plan
As of November 30, 2020 Cal-OSHA has required employers to have a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan. This can be a stand-alone document or integrated into the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
The COVID-19 Prevention Plan applies to all employees except: 1) When there is only one employee who does not come in contact with other persons; 2) Employees working from home; 3) Employees already covered by the aerosol transmission standard.
The written COVID-19 Prevention Plan must include the following:
- A system for communication
- Identification and evaluation of COVID-19 hazards
- Investigating and responding to COVID-19 cases in the workplace
- Correction of COVID-19 hazards
- Training and instruction
- Physical distancing
- Face coverings
- Other engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Reporting, recordkeeping, and access
- Exclusion of COVID-19 cases
- Return to work criteria
Cal/OSHA has a model COVID-19 Prevention Plan on its website as well as FAQs and other helpful information for employers about COVID-19.
As a reminder, we have an employer resource page that has links to a variety of sites that deal specifically with COVID-19 information. Here’s the link again for your reference Connect to HR Employer Resources.
Also, I spoke to my colleague, Mary Hiland, Ph.D earlier this year on the topic of health and safety in the workplace. Click here for a recap of the interview.
Please reach out if you need help updating your IIPP or have questions about implementing these new regulations.