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.
Continue Reading California Employers Must Comply with New Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standards

Critiques of OSHA’s current flexible approach to COVID-19 in the workplace provide insight into how a Democratic administration might regulate differently at the federal level.  Moreover, some states have moved forward with establishing binding rules to address COVID-19 in the workplace, which may provide models for future federal efforts.
Continue Reading Non-binding OSHA COVID-19 Guidance Sparks Calls for Federal Action and Plans for State Action to Create Binding Rules

In guidance to its enforcement staff released on April 13, OSHA has re-emphasized the obligations of employers, particularly in the healthcare industry, to ensure workplace health and safety and to report illnesses and deaths relating to COVID-19 notwithstanding the pandemic.  The guidance also recognizes shortages of N-95 masks and other PPE and other practical considerations that OSHA will take into account in determining whether to bring enforcement actions.
Continue Reading OSHA Issues Interim Enforcement Guidance for COVID-19