California Eyes Mandatory COVID-19 Requirements for Employers

19 Nov, 2020 Nancy Grover


Sacramento, CA ( – California may soon join the growing list of states imposing requirements for employers to protect their workers from the coronavirus. The state’s Occupational and Safety & Health Standards Board votes today on a proposed temporary workplace safety standard which, if fully adopted, would be in effect for 180 days.

The 57-page documents includes a mandate for employers to develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program. They would also need to provide training, testing for certain workers, face coverings, a process to investigate positive cases, and adhere to other requirements.

“Guidance currently exists from a number of different authorities—including the federal CDC, federal OSHA, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Division—on how employers can best protect workers from COVID-19. However, guidance varies between federal and state agencies and contains some contradictory information,” the proposal states. “Employers and employees would benefit from a specific set of regulations related to COVID-19 prevention in all workplaces. “

The proposal would apply to most workplaces, except those with only one employee who does not have contact with other persons, employees working from home, and those with workers already covered by existing rules.

More than a dozen states now have various requirements for employers to prevent the spread of the virus. Oregon, for example this week implemented mandatory training for workers, especially in workplaces deemed to be at higher risk.

California officials say the action is necessary to fight the spread of the virus in that state. From February 1 through September 27 the state has received nearly 7,000 complaints alleging inadequate protections and potential exposure to the virus in workplaces.

“The proposed regulation would significantly reduce the number COVID19 related illnesses, disabilities and deaths in California’s workforce,” the proposal reads. “Adoption of the proposed emergency regulation is necessary to strengthen the Division’s enforcement efforts related to the hazard of COVID-19 in workplaces, through regulatory mandates specific to preventing the spread of the virus.”

If the OSHSB approves the measure, it would then be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law, which would have 10 calendar days to make its decision. The next step would be for the OAL to file the regulation with the Secretary of State for implementation. During its 180 lifespan the proposal could incur possible extensions and the Board could proceed with a regulator rulemaking action including a period for public comment.

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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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