Below is a summary of the requirements for each of the five emergency Cal/OSHA COVID-19 regulations. The full text of the new regulations can be found on the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board website.
Section 3205, COVID-19 Prevention
Scope - The emergency COVID regulation applies to all employees and places of employment, except for the following:
- Places of employment with one employee who does not have contact with other persons
- Employees working from home
- Employees when covered by section 5199
Definitions - There are several key definitions used in the standard, including how COVID-19 cases and workplace exposures are defined. See these definitions here.
Written COVID-19 Prevention Program - The regulation requires employers to create, implement, and maintain an effective, written COVID-19 Prevention Program. The plan may be included in the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or be kept in a separate document. It is important to note that the provisions regarding Covid-19 Prevention Programs also impose new specific, and substantive obligations on employers. In addition to this summary, employers should review the full text of the regulations so that they are aware of all of obligations Cal/OSHA is imposing on them. The following items must be included in the written program:
- How the business tells employees about COVID-19 prevention procedures, testing, symptoms and illnesses:
- There must be a way for employees to report exposures without fear of punishment.
- Employers must describe procedures or policies for accommodating employees with medical conditions that put them at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness.
- How the employer will identify and evaluate COVID-19 hazards:
- Employers must have a process for screening employees for symptoms.
- Employers must identify workplace conditions and practices that could result in potential exposure.
- Employers must allow for employee and authorized representatives (union representatives) to participate in finding and evaluating COVID-19 hazards.
- How the employer will investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases in the workplace:
- Employers must respond immediately to potential exposures by following steps to determine who may have been exposed.
- Employers must notify employees within one business day about potential exposures.
- Employers must offer free testing during work hours to workers who may have been exposed.
- How the employer will correct COVID-19 hazards in the workplace:
- COVID-19 hazards must be corrected in a timely manner.
- Priority must be given to correcting the most serious hazards first.
- How the employer will provide employees effective training and instruction regarding Covid-19.
- How the employer will plan for physical distancing in the workplace:
- Create procedures to ensure workers stay at least six feet apart from other people, if possible.
- How the employer will provide and require employees to wear facemasks in the workplace:
- Employers must provide face coverings and ensure they are worn correctly.
- If employees cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, then they must wear a face shield with a drape.
- If a face covering or face shield are not options for an employee, then the employee must be kept at least six feet apart from other employees unless the employee is tested at least twice a week for COVID-19.
- How the employer will use site specific controls and personal protective equipment:
- Employers must describe procedures used at the workplace to control COVID-19 exposures, such as changes to the workplace and work schedules, and providing personal protective equipment to reduce exposure to the virus.
- How the employer will tell employees about a COVID-19 case in the workplace and make their COVID-19 Prevention Plan available to employees and employee representatives:
- Employers must maintain a record and track all COVID-19 cases in the workplace.
- Medical information must be kept confidential.
- How the employer will keep COVID-19 exposed workers and COVID-19 positive workers out of the workplace:
- Employees who have COVID-19 exposures must stay at home for 14 calendar days.
- Employers must continue to pay an employee who must stay at home following a workplace exposure as if the employee had not been removed from their job.
- Employers may use employer-provided sick leave benefits to this purpose and consider benefit payments from public sources.
- How employees will return to work after recovering from COVID-19 or having a positive test result:
- They have not had a fever of 100.4 °F or higher for 24 hours (without taking fever reducing medicine),
- Their COVID-19 symptoms have improved, and
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
- Employees may return to work when:
- If the employee never got symptoms, they can return 10 days after their positive COVID-19 test.
- Employers cannot require a negative COVID-19 test to return to work.
Section 3205.1, Multiple COVID-19 Infections and COVID-19 Outbreaks
Scope – Applies to workplaces covered by section 3205 if it has been identified by a local health department as the location of a COVID-19 outbreak or when there are three or more COVID-19 cases in an exposed workplace within a 14-day period.
- These additional requirements apply until there are no new COVID-19 cases detected in the workplace for a 14-day period.
- The employer must provide COVID-19 testing to all employees who were present at the exposed workplace during the outbreak.
- Testing must be provided at no cost to employees during the employees’ normal working hours.
- Testing must be provided immediately after the workplace meets the scope of this standard and again one week later.
- Weekly testing must continue until there are no new COVID-19 cases at the workplace within a 14-day period.
Investigation of COVID-19 cases and hazard correction
- Employers must investigate cases to find potential causes and take steps to improve their COVID-19 Prevention Plan to prevent additional infections.
Notifications to local health department
- Employers must notify their local health department of multiple cases within 48 hours.
Section 3205.2, Major COVID-19 Outbreaks
Scope – Applies to workplaces covered by section 3205 when there are 20 or more COVID-19 cases in an exposed workplace within a 30-day period.
- These additional requirements and those from 3205.1 apply until there are no new COVID-19 cases detected in the workplace for a 14-day period.
- Requires the employer to provide twice a week COVID-19 testing to all employees who were present at the exposed workplace during the 30-day period.
Investigation of COVID-19 cases and hazard correction
- Employers must improve ventilation filtration if possible and consider the use of portable or mounted air cleaners in the workplace.
- Employers must determine if respirators are needed for employees.
- Employers must evaluate whether to stop some or all operations to control COVID-19 hazards.
Section 3205.3, COVID-19 Prevention in Employer-Provided Housing
Scope – Applies to any form of employer-provided housing, including boarding houses, bunk houses, hotels, trailers, and several other types of housing facilities.
- The regulation does not apply to housing provided for purposes of emergency response, including firefighting and related emergency support activities.
Assignment of Housing Units
- Employees must be grouped into housing in the following priority order:
- Persons who already live together outside of work (same household, family members)
- Those working in the same crew or at the same worksite
- Employees who do not normally live or work together should be grouped in the same housing unit only as a last resort
Physical distancing and controls
- Beds must be placed at least six feet apart with maximum distance between sleepers’ heads.
- No bunk beds are allowed.
- Maximize the amount of outdoor air and air filtration within housing units.
- Providing face coverings to employees and train them when they must be used.
Cleaning and disinfecting
- Daily cleaning and disinfection of common areas in housing units is required.
- Employees should be encouraged to report COVID-19 symptoms.
- Employers must provide free testing to employees who have had an exposure to COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.
Isolation of COVID-19 cases and employees with exposure
- Employees who have COVID-19 exposures must be housed separately from all other occupants.
- They must have a private bathroom, sleeping area, and cooking and eating facility.
- Employees with active COVID-19 infections can be housed with other employees who also have COVID-19 infections.
Section 3205.4, COVID – 19 Prevention in Employer-Provided Transportation
Scope – Applies to any form of employer-provided transportation to and from work provided or arranged for by an employer.
- Includes rideshares, carpools, shuttles, or buses.
- The regulation does not apply if all employees in a vehicle are members of the same household.
- The regulation does not apply to transportation provided for purposes of emergency response, including firefighting and related emergency support activities.
Assignment of transportation
- Employees must be grouped into vehicles in the following priorities:
- Those residing in the same household in the same vehicle
- Those working in the same crew or worksite in the same vehicle
- Employees who do not normally live or work together should be grouped in the same vehicle only as a last resort
Physical distancing and face coverings
- Employees waiting for a ride must stay six feet apart.
- Employees in vehicle must be at least three feet away from other passengers and the driver.
- The driver and employees must wear face coverings while in the vehicle.
- Employers must have effective procedures to screen employees for symptoms prior to entering a shared vehicle.
Cleaning and disinfecting
- Cleaning of passenger surfaces must be done before every trip.
- Cleaning of driver surfaces must be done before every driver change.
- Employer will make sure materials for sanitizing will be available.
- Hand sanitizer must be provided. Employees must use the hand sanitizer before entering and exiting a vehicle.
- The ventilation system must be set to maximize outdoor air and not recirculate.
- The windows of the vehicle must be kept open during transport unless:
- The air conditioner is in use and the temperature is above 90 degrees.
- The heater is in use and the temperature is below 60 degrees.
- The cabin air filter is in use when potential air contaminants have an EPA Air Quality Index greater than 100.
- Weather protection is needed, such as for rain and snow.