Cal/OSHA has used up all of its “re-adoptions” of its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, so if COVID-19 regulatory requirements are to remain in effect in California into 2023, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board will need to adopt a “Permanent” COVID-19 rule. At a meeting of the Cal/OSH Standards Board last week, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) revealed a proposed Permanent COVID-19 rule.
Andrew J. Sommer, the Head of CMC’s Cal/OSHA Practice, was interviewed by InsideOSHA about these developments. Here’s a link to the article with that detailed interview, and below is some additional context and background about the rulemaking.
The draft permanent rule is intended to replace the COVID-19 ETS that is set to expire at the end of 2022. Here is a link to the agency’s draft regulatory text for the permanent rule. The proposed permanent rule is expected to remain in effect for two years, except for the record-making and recordkeeping provisions that would remain effective for three years.
While DOSH previously indicated that the “permanent” rule would be consistent with the ETS, there are a few significant changes we have identified. Most troubling among them, the definition of “close contact” has been made consistent with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance removing the 6-foot, 15-minutes standard. Instead, the draft defines close contact as:
Last week, Cal/OSHA updated its website, providing additional guidance on how to protect Californian employee from spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Additionally, earlier this week, Division Chief Doug Parker sent an unpublished letter, clarifying Cal/OSHA’s recording/reporting requirements for coronavirus-related illnesses. Below is a summary of both pieces of guidance from Cal/OSHA:
Additional Cal/OSHA Guidance on COVID-19 in the Workplace
Starting with the new guidance on its website, Cal/OSHA provided additional information on how to protect workers from COVID-19. While Cal/OSHA previously issued guidance on requirements under its Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (“ATD”) standard specific to COVID-19, as well as general guidelines, it has now released industry-specific guidance and ATD model plans. The industry-specific guidance includes:
The ATD model plans are fillable pages provided in Word format and include an exposure control plan, laboratory biosafety plan, and “referring employer” model written program.
As general guidance, Cal/OSHA’s website also includes interim guidelines for general industry on COVID-19. These interim guidelines make clear that, for employers covered by the ATD standard, employers must protect employees from airborne infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and pathogens transmitted by aerosols. The ATD standard applies to:
hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, medical offices, outpatient medical facilities, home health care, long-term health care facilities, hospices, medical outreach services, medical transport and emergency medical services;
certain laboratories, public health services and police services that are reasonably anticipated to expose employees to an aerosol transmissible disease;
correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and drug treatment programs; and
any other locations when Cal/OSHA informs employers in writing that they must comply with the ATD standard.
Additionally, for employers NOT covered by the ATD standard, Cal/OSHA advises employers to Continue reading →
To kick off 2015, OSHA rolled-out a major change to its Fatality & Injury Reporting Rule to require employers to contact OSHA thousands of times more often to report incidents, which means many more inspections. A year into the new reporting regime now, it seemed like the perfect time to take a look at what is being reported to OSHA and what OSHA is doing with all the new reports.
“providing employers and workers with a sound, flexible framework for addressing safety and health issues in the workplace.”
Comments about the draft Guidelines are due by February 15, 2016, and OSHA has stated its intention to hold a public meeting in March 2016 to receive further comment on the guidelines. OSHA’s projected final release date for the revised Guidelines is sometime in the Spring or Summer of 2016, before the end of President Obama’s second term.
Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, an epidemiologist by training, is a big believer in the value of data. From our experience, he loves to analyze quantitative data and set policy based on this analysis. A primary reason for the resurrection and revision of the H&S Management Guidelines, we suspect, is the strong correlation Dr. Michaels has found between the application of sound safety and health management practices and lower rates of incidents of occupational injuries and illnesses.
OSHA’s analysis shows that where effective safety and health management is practiced, injury and illness rates are significantly less than rates at comparable worksites where safety and health management is weak or non-existent. Hence, before he leaves office, it is no surprise that Dr. Michaels has Continue reading →