On November 30, 2020, emergency temporary COVID-19 workplace standards (“ETS”) issued by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) took effect. The ETS, which requires stringent workplace protocols intended to curb the spread of COVID-19, applies to all California employers, other than those subject to the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Disease standard or those with only one employee at the workplace who does not have contact with others. Under the ETS, employers must adopt and implement a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention program that includes identification and correction of COVID-19 risks, employee screening, investigation of cases, use of face coverings and other protective equipment, exclusion of exposed employees, and provision of free COVID-19 testing in certain circumstances, among other requirements. The ETS also mandates testing and other action when there are multiple infections or an “outbreak” in a workplace.
Cal/OSHA promptly published a “Frequently Asked Questions” document (“FAQs”), a one-page summary of the ETS, and a Model Prevention Plan. These documents shed additional light on the ETS and how it might be enforced.
Below is an overview of the key takeaways from the new ETS and subsequent Cal/OSHA publications.