By Benjamin D. Briggs, Ilana R. Morady, and Patrick D. Joyce

Seyfarth Synopsis: Last month we blogged about the Cal/OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board’s unanimous vote for a COVID-19 temporary emergency standard and a permanent infectious diseases standard. Cal/OSHA was tasked with drafting proposed text for the temporary emergency standard by the Standard Board’s November 19, 2020 meeting, and it did so last week, bringing the regulated community one step closer to contending with yet more COVID-19-related Cal/OSHA requirements.

The draft emergency standard will be presented and discussed at the Board’s November 19, 2020 meeting, which interested parties can attend via video conference. Before the Standards Board can adopt the temporary emergency standard, there will be a brief notice and comment period, after which the Standard Board will approve the standard. The Office of Administrative Law will also need to approve the temporary standard, and once the temporary standard is filed with the Secretary of State, it will become effective immediately. After this process has completed, employers can expect to see the temporary emergency standard effective by the end of the year. A permanent infectious diseases standard is a longer way off.

The draft standard is already being criticized by employers as being unnecessary, given all of the infection prevention measures that are already in place under existing laws, executive orders, and guidance from Cal/OSHA and public health authorities, as well as local directives. One requirement under the proposed standard is a written COVID-19 Prevention Program, which appears to be largely redundant of Cal/OSHA’s Injury Illness Prevention Program requirements. The proposed standard also includes various other requirements, such as notification requirements that share some similarity with but are different from the requirements of AB 685 (see our blog covering AB 685), a requirement to implement recordkeeping of all COVID-19 cases in the workplace regardless of work-relatedness or where exposure occurred, a requirement to offer no cost testing to employees who have had a potential exposure, and various other requirements such as infection prevention measures, training, and return to work criteria.

Stay tuned for a summary of the standard’s requirements once the temporary emergency standard is adopted and approved.

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.