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CAL-OSHA Issues Emergency COVID Workplace Safety Rules and Requirements

On November 19, 2020 the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal-OSHA) voted to approve a temporary emergency standard related to COVD-19 regulations that will impose heavier requirements on employers.  These regulations took effect December 1, 2020, and will last for 180 days while an advisory committee determines permanent rules.


The new rules require all California employers to:


  • Write and implement a COVID-19 Prevention Program;


  • Notify exposed employees of potential COVID-19 exposure within one business day;


  • Track all COVID-19 cases in the workplace;


  • Maintain medical records related to COVID-19 and provide those records to the local health department, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Cal-OSHA and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) upon request;


  • Ensure that COVID-19 cases are excluded from the workplace until the return to work requirements are met;


  • Exclude employees with COVID-19 exposure from the workplace for 14 days;


  • For employees excluded from work and otherwise able and available to work, employers shall continue and maintain an employee’s earnings, seniority, and all other employee rights and benefits, including the employee’s right to their former job status, as if the employee had not been removed from their job. This does not apply where the employer demonstrates that the COVID-19 exposure is not work related.


  • Provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by employees over the nose and mouth when indoors, when outdoors and less than six feet away from another person, and where required by orders from the CDPH or local health department;



  • Maintain a 6-foot separation between employees and build cleanable, solid barriers in instances where social distancing is not feasible;


  • Disinfect and clean shared supplies and spaces;


  • If there are 3 or more COVID-19 cases in a workplace within a 14-day period the employer must provide COVID-19 testing to all potentially exposed employees;


  • COVID-19 testing shall be provided at no cost to employees during employees’ working hours;


  • If the workplace is considered to have a COVID-19 outbreak as outlined above, COVID-19 testing shall consist of the following:
  • All employees in the exposed workplace shall be tested and then tested again one week later. Negative COVID-19 test results of employees with COVID-19 exposure shall not impact the duration of any quarantine period required by, or orders issued by, the local health department
  • After the first two COVID-19 tests employers shall provide continuous COVID-19 testing of employees who remain at the workplace at least once per week, or more frequently if recommended by the local health department, until there are no new COVID-19 cases detected in the workplace for a 14-day period
  • Employers shall provide additional testing when deemed necessary by the Division through the Issuance of Order to Take Special Action


  • Comply with Cal-OSHA return to work standards.


Call Hill Farrer for Further Questions

Please contact your Hill Farrer attorney or any member of our Labor and Employment department for additional information and assistance with complying with these new regulations.