Here’s What Organizations Need to Know About Cal/OSHA’s New COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

Toward the end of November, Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (OSHSB) unanimously adopted the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) “Emergency Temporary Standards” on COVID-19 prevention in the workplace.

The new standards are binding and enforceable against most California employers, effective November 30, 2020.

Employers with a current COVID-19 policy in place will need to make some changes/additions to be compliant with the new emergency standards. These changes may be implemented into your existing Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPP) or maintained in a separate document.

In response to a plethora of questions surrounding new Cal/OSHA’s emergency standard, the DIR published an FAQ.

Many of the questions relate to effective date and enforcement, including: What if an employer is unable to comply with the ETS by its effective date?

Answer: Many of the provisions of these regulations have already been required under employers’ Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPP), including the requirement to identify and address hazards, use of face coverings, and physical distancing. As employers implement the new regulations, Cal/OSHA enforcement personnel will consider an employer’s good faith efforts in working towards compliance, but some aspects, such as eliminating hazards and implementing testing requirements during an outbreak, are essential.

Cal/OSHA also posted a program template to their website for employers to use to when putting together a written plan.

Here is a brief summary of the requirements:

A. Employers must develop a written COVID 19 Prevention Program that includes:

  1. System for communicating
  2. Identification and evaluation of hazards
  3. Investigation and response to positive cases in the workplace
    • Effective procedure to investigate positive case
    • Time and day of positive test, diagnosis, and first symptoms
    • Who may have been exposed
    • Give notice of potential exposure without identifying personal information
    • Offer testing at no cost to employees during their working hours
    • Identify if workplace conditions contributed to risk of exposure
    • Personal information must be kept confidential

B. Correction of hazards

C. Training and instruction

  • Policies and procedures
  • Benefits available to employees
  • Disease transmission
  • Physical distancing
  • How disease is spread
  • Hand washing
  • Face coverings
  • Symptoms

D. Physical distancing

E. Face Coverings

F. Other Engineering & Administrative controls and PPE

  • Partitions
  • Building ventilation
  • Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Prohibiting sharing of PPE, tools and materials
  • Handwashing facilities
  • PPE

G. Reporting, recordkeeping and access

H. Exclusion of COVID 19 cases

  • COVID cases must be excluded from the workplace until return to work requirements are met

I. Return to Work criteria

J. Multiple COVID 19 infections and outbreaks

K. Employer provided housing

L. Employer provided transportation

For more information, visit this link.

If you have questions about your organization’s current program and need further assistance, please feel free to contact Bolton’s Safety & Health Manager, Stefanie Nobriga, for more information. 



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