By Brent I. ClarkBenjamin D. BriggsAdam R. Young, Patrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: The CDC continues to expand its guidance on the potential routes of COVID-19 transmission, changing its definition of “close contact” of 15 minutes or more within 6 feet, to now mean 15 minutes aggregated across an entire day, and not just a single continuous 15 minute period.

For the last several months, the CDC has advised that COVID-19 can be transmitted via multiple routes. Of those routes, household members, intimate partners, and “close contacts” are at highest risk of transmission. Formerly, the CDC defined “close contact” to be a contact within six feet, for 15 consecutive minutes or more. These 15 consecutive minutes were based on an understanding of sufficient viral load to transmit the disease. The former guidance was released before CDC’s mask guidance and made no mention of facemasks. As a result, employers and contact tracers could infer that “close contact” meant unmasked contact.

However, on October 21, 2020, the CDC updated its definition of “close contact” to mean “someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.” Now, “cumulative minutes of exposure at a distance of 6 feet or less can be used as an operational definition for contact investigation.”

This is a large shift for employers and contact tracers, and will require increased resources to help identify contacts over 15 minutes cumulatively in a 24-hour period and will significantly reduce the workforce available to employers. For example, CDC’s new definition could mean that a person who had thirty separate 30-second interactions with a COVID-19 positive contact through a day would be considered a “close contact,” requiring them to quarantine.

The CDC has also removed the contacts’ use of facemasks as a consideration in the analysis, explaining that “because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, such as an N95, the determination of close contact should generally be made irrespective of whether the contact was wearing respiratory PPE. At this time, differential determination of close contact for those using fabric face coverings is not recommended.” Accordingly, close contacts come from 15 or more cumulative minutes of exposure, regardless of facemask use.

To support this change in definition, the CDC provided evidence from an exposure in a correctional setting, indicating that an employee “had multiple brief encounters with six incarcerated or detained persons while their SARS-CoV-2 test results were pending.”  Subsequently, all six detained persons received positive COVID-19 test results. The employer then conducted a contact tracing investigation, using video surveillance footage to determine that the employee never spent 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet of the detained persons. Subsequently, in the next few days, the employee became ill and also tested positive for COVID-19. During all interactions, the correctional officer wore a microfiber cloth mask, gown, and eye protection. In addition, the employee reported no other known close contact exposures to persons with COVID-19 outside work and no travel outside the state during the 14 days preceding the illness onset.

As recently blogged, the CDC has also expressed concerns about airborne transmission, where transmission can occur from virus particles suspended in the air.

Employers may need to revise their policies, procedures, and record-keeping analyses to be consistent with the CDC’s new guidelines. For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.

By Brent I. ClarkPatrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that Michigan Governor Whitmer lacked the authority to declare a “state of emergency” or a “state of disaster” beyond April 30, 2020, and that the authority delegated to the Governor under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act was unconstitutionally broad.

Midwest Institute of Health, PLLC, and other healthcare organizations brought an action against the Governor of Michigan, the Michigan Attorney General, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, challenging the Governor’s Executive Order (EO) No. 2020-17, which prohibited healthcare providers from performing nonessential procedures. The order was issued by Governor Gretchen Whitmer as part of a series of executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The court determined that certain issues raised in the case involved unsettled areas of state law, such that certification of those questions to the Michigan Supreme Court was appropriate. The federal district court certified the following questions to the Michigan Supreme Court:

  1. Whether, under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA), MCL § 10.31, et seq., or the Emergency Management Act (EMA), MCL § 30.401, et seq., Governor Whitmer has the authority after April 30, 2020 to issue or renew any executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Whether the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act and/or the Emergency Management Act violates the Separation of Powers and/or the Non Delegation Clauses of the Michigan Constitution.

In its decision, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously held that, as to the first question, the Governor did not have authority after April 30, 2020 to issue or renew executive orders related to the COVID19 pandemic under the EMA.

Further, in a 4-3 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the second certified question was partially answered in the affirmative: The Governor did not possess the authority to exercise emergency powers under the EPGA because the act unlawfully delegates legislative power to the executive branch and allowed the executive branch to exercise those powers indefinitely, in violation of the Michigan Constitution.

This decision is expected to have wide-ranging effects on Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders related to COVID-19, which number in the hundreds. While the decision is not effective until 21-days from issuance, the Governor’s office has sought clarification as to how long the Executive Orders remain in place. The Governor argues that the Order remain effective until at least October 30, 2020, but Michigan’s Attorney General issued a statement on October 2, 2020 indicating that he would cease enforcement of the Orders immediately.

On October 5, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an Emergency Order reinstating many of the restrictions put in place by the Governor’s Orders, including limits on gatherings, requirements to wear masks, protections for organized sorts, and other items.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Seyfarth Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.

By Benjamin D. BriggsPatrick D. Joyce, Ilana R. Morady, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: On September 17, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued, Cal/OSHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted unanimously to draft a COVID-19 temporary emergency standard and a permanent infectious disease standard, with a deadline for consideration at their November 19 meeting. The Board believes an ETS would improve COVID-19 worker safety for California workers and give the Agency greater enforcement powers to hold employers accountable.

The Board’s September meeting considered the following agenda item for approval:

[A]mend Title 8 standards to create two new regulations. The first, a temporary emergency standard that would provide specific protections to California employees who may have exposure to COVID-19, but who are not protected by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standards (Sections 5199 and 5199.1). The second standard would be a permanent rulemaking effort to protect workers from infectious diseases including novel pathogens (e.g. COVID-19).

According to the LA Times, the Board voted to approve the proposal unanimously. While there are existing safety rules and guidelines related to COVID-19 that employers are encouraged to follow, subject to fines from Cal/OSHA, the new standard is expected to provide specific steps employers can take to better protect employees from possible outbreaks, with the goal of alleviating confusion while strengthening oversight.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.

Seyfarth Synopsis: Here is a quick review and summary of our Workplace Safety and Environmental blogs posted over the last two months, as a way to keep you connected and aware of our latest thought leadership. As always, readers are encouraged to reach out to our authors with any comments or questions raised from the blogs.

EPA Publishes Guidance on Plantwide Applicability Limitation Provisions Under the NSR Rules

Seyfarth Synopsis: On August 5, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) released a final memorandum on “Guidance on Plantwide Applicability Limitation Provisions Under the New Source Review Regulations.”

Employers May Have Employee Misconduct Where Training of Safety Rule Was Verbal and On-the-Job

Seyfarth Synopsis: Commission’s approval of undocumented training provides blueprint for employee misconduct claims for employers going forward.

CDC Guidance on Workplace Violence in Retail Associated with COVID-19, Customer Face Mask Enforcement

Seyfarth Synopsis: The CDC published guidance aimed at assisting retail and service companies in limiting workplace violence against or involving their employees that may be associated with enforcing face mask mandates and other COVID-19 precautions

The Rain is Coming Again: Disaster Preparedness, Recovery, and Employee Safety During Hurricane Season

Seyfarth Synopsis: With Hurricane Laura drenching the Gulf Coast, employers are facing daunting emergencies, safety and health risks, property damage, employee disruption, and re-building.

Cal/OSHA Announces Citations to Multiple Employers for COVID-19 Violations

Seyfarth SynopsisCal/OSHA announced that it has cited eleven employers for not protecting employees from COVID-19 exposure during inspections of industries where workers have an elevated risk of exposure. The industries include food processing, meatpacking, health care, agriculture and retail. The employers were cited for various violations including some classified as serious, with proposed penalties ranging from $2,025 to $51,190.

Cal/OSHA Cites Food Manufacturer and its Staffing Firm for Failing to Protect Hundreds of Workers from COVID-19 Exposure

Seyfarth Synopsis: Cal/OSHA, in a press release, noted that it recently issued citations to a food manufacturer and its temporary employment agency, with over $200,000 in proposed penalties to each employer for “failing to protect hundreds of employees from COVID-19 at two plants.”

OSHA Publishes New Guidance on Use of Cloth Face Coverings and Heat Illness Prevention

Seyfarth Synopsis: In two recent guidance documents, OSHA recommends that employers encourage workers to wear cloth face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19. OSHA further addresses the challenges posed by cloth face coverings for workers in hot and humid environments or while performing strenuous activities.

CalPecs – COVID-19 Exposure Notification Requirements Coming To A Workplace Near You

Seyfarth Synopsis: As California’s legislative session comes to an end, a wave of new COVID-19 related laws that impact employers are being signed into law. On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed AB 685, which will require employers to provide specific notices to employees exposed to COVID-19 within one business day of becoming aware of the exposure, and impacts COVID-19 related alleged Cal/OSHA violations.

Workers’ Compensation Liability Is Catching In California

Seyfarth Synopsis: Senate Bill 1159 was signed into law by Governor Newsom on September 17, 2020, and went into effect immediately. Under the new law, if employees test positive for COVID-19 under specific circumstances, there is a rebuttable presumption that their exposure occurred at the workplace. Unless rebutted, this presumption creates a compensable injury for purposes of qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits. SB 1159 also creates reporting requirements for employers through January 1, 2023.

CDC Issues Updated Guidance for Reopening Buildings After Prolonged Shutdown or Reduced Operation Due to COVID-19

Seyfarth Synopsis: CDC explains that the shutdown or reduced operation of a building and reductions in normal water use can create hazards for returning occupants. It recommends in its updated Guidance for Reopening Buildings that building owner-operators check for hazards before reopening. Hazards may include lead and copper contaminationmold, and Legionella (the cause of Legionnaires’ disease).

By Benjamin D. BriggsPatrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: CDC explains that the shutdown or reduced operation of a building and reductions in normal water use can create hazards for returning occupants. It recommends in its updated Guidance for Reopening Buildings that building owner-operators check for hazards before reopening. Hazards may include lead and copper contamination, mold, and Legionella (the cause of Legionnaires’ disease).

Earlier this year, CDC released guidance for reopening buildings that discussed the potential hazards created by Legionella in water systems. In this update, the CDC adds guidance for addressing lead and copper that may be introduced into building water systems that have had low or no use for a prolonged period of time. Depending on the particular water system, “prolonged period” could mean weeks or months, or potentially even days of reduced usage. CDC also adds guidance for mold awareness, monitoring, and remediation during and after prolonged building shutdowns; updates the Legionella guidance for people with weakened immune systems, and recommends the use of respiratory protection when flushing water systems.

For lead and copper, the CDC indicates that a prolonged shutdown may affect systems depending upon the amount of time water remains stagnant inside the pipes, whether there are protective scales or coatings present inside pipes that prevent metals from leaching into water, and the materials used to build the plumbing system.

For mold, a prolonged shutdown may affect buildings depending upon building-specific factors such as ventilation, water intrusion, and construction, as well as seasonal and weather variables.

For Legionella, the potential for introduction into the water system depends upon the amount of time the system was shut down, plumbing-specific factors such as low points or areas prone to becoming stagnant, disinfectant residuals, water heater temperature set points, water usage patterns, and preexisting Legionella colonization.

For lead, coper, and Legionella, CDC recommends regular maintenance of water systems, even when buildings are not occupied or have low occupancy, as well as regular flushing and testing of systems for lead, copper, and Legionella. For mold, CDC recommends maintaining indoor humidity below 50% at all times, including while a building is unoccupied, as well as assessing a building for mold and excess moisture and “flushing out” the building HVAC system prior to building occupancy.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Seyfarth Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.

By Matthew Graffigna and Robert E. Buch

Seyfarth Synopsis: Senate Bill 1159 was signed into law by Governor Newsom on September 17, 2020, and went into effect immediately. Under the new law, if employees test positive for COVID-19 under specific circumstances, there is a rebuttable presumption that their exposure occurred at the workplace. Unless rebutted, this presumption creates a compensable injury for purposes of qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits. SB 1159 also creates reporting requirements for employers through January 1, 2023.

Who Is Eligible For The New Workers’ Compensation Presumption?

As we previously reported, Executive Order N-62-20 created a rebuttable presumption surrounding certain COVID-19 workplace exposures. SB 1159 codifies Executive Order N-62-20 in new Labor Code section 3212.86. Under this section, there is now a statutory rebuttable presumption of industrial exposure (i.e., the assumption that someone got sick at work) for workers who tested positive or were diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days after performing services at their place of employment at their employer’s direction between March 19, 2020, and July 5, 2020. To be entitled to the presumption, an employee diagnosed with COVID-19 must have had the diagnosis confirmed by testing within 30 days of the diagnosis.

Since Governor Newsom’s Executive Order sunset on July 5, 2020, employers have been left in the dark as to whether and how its requirements might be extended. Now, the answer is clear—SB 1159 created a new framework for this rebuttable presumption that went into effect immediately on September 17, 2020.

Under the new Labor Code section 3212.88, there is a rebuttable presumption of workers’ compensation coverage when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days after performing services at their place of employment at the employer’s direction if the positive test occurs on or after July 6, 2020, and the positive test occurred during a period of an “outbreakat the workplace.

However, there is a slightly different avenue for people working in healthcare or in public safety positions. For these employees to qualify for the presumption, they must only test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of performing services at their place of employment on or after July 6, 2020 (regardless of whether there has been an “outbreak”).

Also note that across the board, employees must exhaust all available supplemental COVID-19 sick leave pay, such as the new CA COVID supplemental sick pay, before receiving temporary disability benefits from the worker’s compensation carrier.

What Does It Mean To Have An “Outbreak”?

For purposes of this new law, an “outbreak” is when, within 14 days, any of the following occurs at a place of employment:

  1. The employer has 100 employees or fewer at a specific place of employment, and four employees test positive for COVID-19.
  2. The employer has more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment, and 4% of the workforce at that place test positive for COVID-19.
  3. A specific place of employment is ordered to closed because of COVID-19.

(Note that this definition of “outbreak” is specific to this workers’ compensation presumption. The California Department of Health and other state and local laws use different definitions of “outbreak” for different purposes.)

But I Have A Huge Facility—What Does “Specific Place Of Employment” Mean?

Many employers have sites that cover several acres, encompassing multiple buildings, fields, and processing floors and departments. In these instances, the workers’ compensation liability presumption might not apply if someone works in a different or distinct part of a facility from any other employees who may have contracted COVID-19, because it may not be considered the “specific place of employment” under the new statute.

For purposes of the new law, a “specific place of employment” is defined as “the building, store, facility, or agricultural field where an employee performs work at the employer’s direction.” The employee’s home or residence is excluded unless the employee provides home health care services to another individual at the employee’s home or residence. (And, if that is the case, the home office must be the exclusive location where the employee performs their work.)

So, if an employer has one employee test positive in Building A, and another test positive in Building B on the opposite side of campus (and they don’t otherwise share facilities, like a break room or restroom), the employer may have a good argument the presumption does not apply.

If My Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19, What Do I Have To Do?

In addition to other requirements that may be in place under state or local laws, SB 1159 creates employer reporting requirements. An employer that “knows or reasonably should know” that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 must report to the workers’ claims administrator in writing—via email or fax—all of the following within three business days:

  1. An employee has tested positive. But the employer must not reveal any personally identifiable information about the employee unless the employee has asserted the infection is work-related or has filed a claim form pursuant to Section 5401.
  2. The date that the employee tested positive, which is the date the specimen was collected for testing.
  3. The specific address of the specific place of employment during the 14-day period preceding the date of the positive test.
  4. The highest number of employees who reported to work at the specific place of employment during the 45-day period preceding the last day the employee worked at each specific place of employment.”

Employers also must retroactively report to their carriers any employees who tested positive on or after July 6, 2020, and prior to September 17, 2020.

Following these reporting requirements is of paramount importance—employers that intentionally submit false or misleading information or fail to submit information when reporting can trigger civil penalties in amounts up to $10,000.

Workplace Solutions

The laws surrounding workers’ compensation and COVID-19 infections have been changing rapidly. If you have questions about the current state of reporting requirements or what to do if you have employees that test positive, then please contact your favorite Seyfarth attorney.

Edited by Coby Turner and Elizabeth Levy

By Ilana R. Morady and Elizabeth M. Levy

Seyfarth Synopsis: As California’s legislative session comes to an end, a wave of new COVID-19 related laws that impact employers are being signed into law. On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed AB 685, which will require employers to provide specific notices to employees exposed to COVID-19 within one business day of becoming aware of the exposure, and impacts COVID-19 related alleged Cal/OSHA violations.

When we last we blogged about Assembly Bill 685, it was awaiting Governor Newsom’s approval, but it was signed into law on September 17, 2020. Under the new law, which will be in effect from January 1, 2021, until January 1, 2023, employers must comply with specific notification requirements any time there has been a potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. AB 685 also enhances Cal/OSHA’s enforcement abilities in the COVID-19 realm.

COVID-19 Exposure Notification Requirements

  • Who Do I Need To Notify?

Any time an employer is put on notice that a “qualifying individual” (someone who tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19, or is subjected to an isolation order) was in the workplace while they were considered potentially infectious, the employer is subject to notice requirements.  First, notice must be provided to individuals who “may have been exposed” in the workplace within one business day.  This notice must be sent to employees, subcontractors, and union representatives.

Employers with multiple buildings or floors do not necessarily need to provide notice of potential exposure throughout the entire company— the notice requirement is limited to the specific “worksite” the qualifying individual entered, such as “Building A” or “Field 1,” and not necessarily the entire company or facility site.

Employers are also required to notify the local public health department within 48 hours of becoming aware of a COVID-19 workplace “outbreak,” as defined by the California Department of Public Health. (Note that the California Department of Public Health currently defines an outbreak as three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a two-week period among employees who live in different households. However, as with all things COVID-19 related, local definitions may vary and guidance may be subject to change, so employers should continue to regularly check on the most up to date applicable information.)

When notifying the local health department, employers should be prepared to report the number of COVID-19 cases at the worksite, as well as names, occupations and worksites of qualifying individuals. Employers required to report an outbreak must also notify the local health department of any subsequent laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the worksite.

  • What Information Does The Notification Need To Include?

The notice must inform individuals who were at the workplace during the qualifying individual’s infectious period that they “may have been exposed to COVID-19.” This notice also needs to provide information to all employees “who may have been exposed” about benefits to which employees may be entitled under federal, state, or local law, including workers’ compensation, paid sick leave, negotiated leave, and anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections.

In addition, all employees must be notified about the disinfection and safety plans that the employer plans to implement and complete per CDC guidelines.

  • How Do I Need To Distribute The Notice?

The written notification of potential exposure must be sent in a manner normally used by the employer to communicate employment-related information (including personal service, email, or text), must be in both English and the language understood by the majority of the employees, and must protect employee privacy (i.e., not disclose the names of qualifying individuals). Non-employee individuals entitled to this notice may be notified in a similar manner.

Also note employers are required to maintain records of the written notification for at least three years.

  • Are There Any Exceptions?

The “outbreak” reporting requirement will not apply to “health facilities” as defined in the Health and Safety Code. In addition, neither the “outbreak” reporting nor the notification-of potential-exposure requirement will apply to employees who, as part of their duties, conduct COVID-19 testing or provide direct care to individuals known to have tested positive for COVID-19, or are in quarantine or isolation—unless the qualifying individual is an employee at the same worksite.

Cal/OSHA Enforcement

Cal/OSHA has long had the authority to shut down a worksite if it determines the worksite presents an “imminent hazard.” However, AB 685 adds Section 6325(b) to the Labor Code, which reiterates that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health can close down a business if it deems there is an “imminent hazard” related to potential COVID-19 transmission.

AB 685 also exempts the Division from sending notices of intent to issue serious citations (as is normally required) when the alleged hazard is COVID-19 related. Normally, if Cal/OSHA plans to issue a serious citation, it first sends a notice of intent, and employers have the option of responding with evidence. But now, if Cal/OSHA intends to issue a serious citation for an alleged COVID-19 hazard, it need not issue a notice of intent or consider the employer’s evidence.

Workplace Solutions

Navigating ever-changing COVID-19 related laws remains a significant challenge, particularly in California. Seyfarth continues to keep employers updated in its COVID-19 Resource Center. If you have questions or concerns regarding which types of regulations may apply to your workforce, and how to implement them, reach out to your favorite Seyfarth attorney.

Edited by Coby Turner

 

By James L. CurtisMark A. Lies, II, Adam R. Young, Patrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: In two recent guidance documents, OSHA recommends that employers encourage workers to wear cloth face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19. OSHA further addresses the challenges posed by cloth face coverings for workers in hot and humid environments or while performing strenuous activities.

Since the CDC issued its April 2020 recommendation that individuals wear masks to stem the spread of the pandemic, we have blogged on the various guidelines and challenges employers face. See Heat Illness – A Phantom Menace: Sweatt Blogs on Safety Measures and Heat Illness in the Workplace, Heat Illness Strikes Back: Return to Work’s Untold Story, OSHA Updates FAQs on Face Masks in the Workplace, and DOL Issues FAQs About Face Coverings, Surgical Masks, and Respirators in the Workplace.

In its new guidance documents, OSHA recommends that employers follow the best practices to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and the risk of heat-related illness, including:

  • Acclimatize new and returning workers (through rotation between jobs that require face coverings and those that do not) to environmental and work conditions while wearing cloth face coverings.
  • Prioritize the use of cloth face coverings when workers are in close contact with others (less than 6 feet), such as during group travel or shift meetings.
  • Allow workers to remove cloth face coverings when they can safely maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of wearing cloth face coverings for each worker and consider alternatives (e.g., face shields) when appropriate.
  • Increase the frequency of hydration and rest breaks in cooled environments.
  • Incorporate at least 6 feet of physical distancing into break areas by staggering breaks, spacing workers, or limiting the number of workers on break at a time, where feasible.
  • Encourage workers to use cloth face coverings that optimize fit and comfort and are made out of breathable, moisture-wicking materials.
  • Encourage workers to change cloth face coverings when wet, as wet face coverings make it more difficult to breathe and are not as effective. Provide clean replacement cloth face coverings or disposable face masks, as needed, for workers to change into throughout the work shift.
  • Plan for heat emergencies and train workers on heat stress prevention and treatment.
  • Avoid scheduling strenuous tasks during the hottest parts of the day and alter work shifts to cooler parts of the day, when possible.
  • Allow workers to utilize personal passive cooling devices such as ice vests.
  • Increase the frequency of communication to workers and encourage workers to monitor themselves and others for signs of heat illness.

Employers should consider the application of the individual guidance for your particular workplace. The Use of Cloth Face Coverings while Working Outdoors in Hot and Humid Conditions. (September 2020), and The Use of Cloth Face Coverings while Working Indoors in Hot and Humid Conditions. (September 2020).

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.

By Benjamin D. BriggsBrent I. ClarkMark A. Lies, IIAdam R. YoungIlana R. Morady, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: Cal/OSHA, in a press release, noted that it recently issued citations to a food manufacturer and its temporary employment agency, with over $200,000 in proposed penalties to each employer for “failing to protect hundreds of employees from COVID-19 at two plants.”

According to the Agency, the employers did not take “any steps to install barriers or implement procedures to have employees work at least six feet away from each other and they did not investigate any of their employees’ COVID-19 infections.” In addition, the employers did not “adequately communicate the COVID-19 hazards” to its employees and in at least one case did not report a COVID-19 fatality to Cal/OSHA.

The Agency noted that the citations also allege that the “employer did not notify employees about their potential exposure to other employees who had been diagnosed as infected with the virus so that such employees would be able to take appropriate protective  measures.”

Cal/OSHA’s Chief, Doug Parker, indicated that “if a COVID-19 illness occurs, employers must investigate the case to determine if additional protective measures should be taken and report the serious illnesses and deaths to Cal/OSHA. Employers should also notify workers of possible exposure and report outbreaks to county public health officials.”

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Seyfarth Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.

By Brent I. Clark, Benjamin D. Briggs, Mark A. Lies, IIAdam R. YoungIlana R. Morady, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: Cal/OSHA announced that it has cited eleven employers for not protecting employees from COVID-19 exposure during inspections of industries where workers have an elevated risk of exposure. The industries include food processing, meatpacking, health care, agriculture and retail. The employers were cited for various violations including some classified as serious, with proposed penalties ranging from $2,025 to $51,190.

Cal/OSHA’s Chief Doug Parker said in the announcement that “we have identified these industries as priorities in our strategic enforcement efforts to make sure employers have adequate COVID-19 infection prevention procedures in place.” “These are industries where workers have been disproportionately affected, and these citations are the first of many to be issued in the coming weeks and months.” Emphasis added.

The notice indicates that “the inspections were opened after notification of serious illnesses, complaints of workplace hazards and after proactive joint enforcement efforts.”

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Seyfarth Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.