COVID-19 Prevention Program and Why YOU Need One!
Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and the decrease in available hospital beds, Cal/OSHA has adopted Emergency Temporary Standards regarding COVID-19 prevention in the workplace. The standards became effective November 30, 2020, and most California employers should be currently working towards complying with these new standards.
The new standards do not apply to:
- Places of employment with only one employee who does not come in contact with other people at work
- Employees working from home
- Employees already covered by the aerosol transmissible disease standard. The aerosol transmissible disease standard applies to certain healthcare facilities, laboratories and a small number of other employers.
All other employers are required to prepare and implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program (CPP).
Employers may incorporate the CPP in their current Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP). However, the CPP may also be a standalone document. An IIPP is a current requirement for all employers in California.
The COVID-19 Prevention Program must include the following at a minimum:
- Communication to employees about the employer’s COVID-19 prevention practices
- How the company ensures employees are screened for symptoms prior to starting work
- Assessment and correction of COVID-19 hazards
- Physical distancing of at least six feet unless it is not possible
- Employees must use face coverings, with some exceptions
- Engineering controls, administrative controls, and distribution and use of personal protective equipment
- Procedures to investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases
- Training for employees on the company’s COVID-19 procedures, identifying of symptoms, safety protocols and the employees right to paid leave
- In the case of multiple infections or a major outbreak, implementation of regular workplace testing
- COVID-19 cases and exposed employees are excluded from the workplace until they are no longer an infection risk
- Maintenance of records regarding COVID-19 cases and the requirement to report positive cases to the local health department and serious illnesses and multiple cases to Cal/OSHA
The Emergency Temporary Standards include a requirement for the employer to train all employees on the COVID-19 Prevention Program and the importance of following the policies and procedures. All employees who do not work from home and who have contact with others while at work must be educated on the company’s policies and procedures and employers should keep track of when employees are trained.
In addition, the new Standards provide that employees who were exposed to COVID-19 at the workplace be offered COVID-19 testing at no cost, during working hours (so employees are paid for going to get these tests).
For employees excluded from work, the employer is required to pay the employee and maintain their seniority, and all other rights and benefits. The employer can pay the employee through sick leave or other paid time off plans. This does not apply, however, to any period of time when the employee is unable to work for reasons other than protecting others at the workplace from possible COVID-19 transmission, or when the employer can demonstrate that the exposure was not work-related.
The California Department of Industrial Relations has recently issued an FAQ page on the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards for more information.
How SDHRC Can Help
At SDHR Consulting, we know as a business owner you have implemented many changes throughout this pandemic and another change such as the COVID-19 Prevention Program may seem overwhelming. Let us help you with this burden…we have some big shoulders! Our experts specialize in documentation such as Injury and Illness Prevention Programs and we can help you with the newly required COVID-19 Prevention Program documents as well!
About the Author
Traci Hagan, “Treasure Trove”
Traci is an HR Consultant who has been with SDHRC for over 2 years but has over 32 years of experience in employee relations, conflict resolution benefits administration, training and development, workers’ comp and staffing! Traci is also a Professor who enjoys traveling and spending time with her 16-year-old “puppy”.