Did you really think that there would be an end to the COVID-19 Prevention Plan with the 12/31/2022 sunset provision in the current Emergency Temporary Standard? If so, the Easter Bunny and Santa say, “Hello”.
On December 15, 2022, Non-Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations were adopted and will become effective in the month of January 2023 once approved by the Office of Administrative Law. The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) remain in effect until the new regulations become effective.
Once approved they will remain in effect for two years after the effective date. This will give the Standards Board time to develop an Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard for General Industry.
Cal/OSHA and CDPH
This new standard aligns itself with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines and recommendations. Companies are now required to follow the latest CDPH rules for the following:
- When employees must wear face masks
- Employers must review CDPH and Cal/OSHA guidance regarding ventilation, including Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments
- The definition for close contact will be the current CDPH version which is
“Close Contact” means the following:
In indoor spaces of 400,000 or fewer cubic feet per floor (such as homes, clinic waiting rooms, airplanes, etc.), close contact is defined as sharing the same indoor airspace for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes) during an infected person’s (confirmed by COVID-19 test or clinical diagnosis) infectious period. Please note there is no proximity mentioned in this definition.
In large indoor spaces greater than 400,000 cubic feet per floor (such as open-floor-plan offices, warehouses, large retail stores, manufacturing, or food processing facilities), close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of the infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the infected person’s infectious period.
Spaces that are separated by floor-to-ceiling walls (e.g., offices, suites, rooms, waiting areas, bathrooms, or break or eating areas that are separated by floor-to-ceiling walls) must be considered distinct indoor airspaces.
Most of my clients (you’re the BEST!) occupy spaces way under 400,000 cubic feet so the employees working in open office areas could all be considered a close contact if someone with COVID was in the area for at least 15 minutes—even if they were over 30 feet away! They shared the airspace which is the Close Contact definition.
Close Contact triggers a letter sent to each employee notifying them of the close contact and the employer must provide COVID-19 testing.
Employers must do the following:
- Provide effective COVID-19 hazard prevention training to employees.
- Provide face coverings when required by CDPH and provide respirators upon request.
- Identify COVID-19 health hazards and develop methods to prevent transmission in the workplace.
- Investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases and certain employees after close contact.
- Make testing available at no cost to employees, including to all employees in the exposed group during an outbreak or a major outbreak.
- Notify affected employees of COVID-19 cases in the workplace.
- Maintain records of COVID-19 cases and immediately report serious illnesses to Cal/OSHA and to the local health department when required.
- Employers must now report major outbreaks to Cal/OSHA.
The COVID-19 Prevention regulations do not require employers to pay employees while they are excluded from work. Instead, the regulations require employers to provide employees with information regarding COVID-19 related benefits they may be entitled to under federal, state, or local laws; their employer’s leave policies; or leave guaranteed by contract.
We will update your COVID Prevention Plan (CPP) in January If you have an annual safety agreement with M.R.S. or if we updated or developed your safety manual within the last 6 months. If you have any questions, please contact us. [email protected] or 714.717.9389.