On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 685 into law, establishing new requirements for employers to notify employees and their unions about a potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.  The new law, which will be in effect from January 1, 2021, until January 1, 2023, also requires employers to report a COVID-19 “outbreak” at the worksite to local health authorities.  Further, AB 685 relaxes the pre-citation requirements that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) must follow before issuing a citation for a serious violation related to COVID-19.  This article breaks down the various requirements of the new law and identifies potential complications or issues that employers should be aware of when attempting to comply with the new requirements. Continue Reading Enactment of AB 685 Establishes COVID-19 Exposure Notice Requirements for California Employers and Cal/OSHA Enforcement Changes

On July 2, 2020, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published an FAQ web page based on COVID-19 related inquiries that the agency received from the public.  The FAQ page provides a central location for information and links on a variety of topics related to best practices to ensure worker safety and protect workers’ rights during the ongoing pandemic.  Although the majority of the guidance contained in OSHA’s responses is not new, employers should review the FAQ page to ensure their health and safety policies and procedures follow OSHA’s recommendations.  This article lists the topics covered by the new FAQ page and identifies a few topics that may be of particular interest to employers. Continue Reading OSHA Publishes Responses to Frequently Asked Questions on Worker Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic

On June 17, 2020, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued its “Guidance on Returning to Work.”  This new guidance is intended to supplement the previous “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” that OSHA published in March.  Most non-essential businesses throughout the country have already reopened and returned at least some portion of their workforce to the workplace.  However, with the risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 still present, employers must continue to monitor and follow new and evolving federal, state, and local guidance aimed at protecting the safety and health of employees.  OSHA’s new guidance contains “guiding principles” that OSHA recommends employers incorporate into their reopening plans.  In addition, the new guidance provides OSHA’s responses to frequently asked questions on testing and screening employees and identifies specific OSHA standards and requirements that are applicable to minimizing occupational exposure to COVID-19.  Because much of the new guidance deals with mitigation measures that many employers have already implemented, this article seeks to assist employers with understanding specific directives and concerns in the guidance that are new or may have been overlooked previously. Continue Reading OSHA Issues New COVID-19 Guidance Answering Practical Questions on Returning to Work

As California businesses begin to reopen and return employees to physical workplaces, there are numerous safety measures for employers to consider implementing to minimize the spread of COVID-19.  On May 14, 2020, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) issued its “Interim General Guidelines on Protecting Workers from COVID-19.”  The new guidelines replace the previous, limited directives by Cal/OSHA, which forced employers to rely heavily on federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Fed/OSHA”) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) for advice instead.  The new guidance identifies specific infection control measures that are mandatory for California employers to implement and include in their Injury and Illness Prevention Program (“IIPP”).  This article breaks down the extensive list of measures and training in the new guidance in an effort to help employers learn how to update their current IIPP and remain in compliance. Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Issues New COVID-19 General Industry Guidance for All California Employers

Earlier this year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.  The new rule has two components – one relating to employee involvement, which takes effect on December 1, 2016, and the other relating to employer recordkeeping, which will be effective January 1, 2017.

Continue Reading New OSHA Requirements for Employee Involvement and Employer Recordkeeping Take Effect Over the Next Two Months

For the first time since 1990, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been authorized to increase its civil penalties.  The provision was inserted into the expansive Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which was signed this month by President Barack Obama.   Continue Reading It’s Time to Review and Update Safety and Compliance Regimens – OSHA Penalties Set to Surge in 2016

On July 24, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) issued guidance entitled “COVID-19 Employer Playbook For a Safe Reopening.”  The CDPH then revised the 32-page Employer Playbook a week later, on July 31st.  A link to the most up-to-date guidance is available here. Continue Reading California Department of Public Health Issues COVID-19 “Employer Playbook”

Our proximity and “close contact” with other humans is on the front lines in the war against coronavirus.  Yet tracking 6 feet of distance from every human we encounter for a 14 day period is nearly impossible without the help of technology like contact-tracing apps.  Although many privacy and employment laws designed to protect employee rights have been temporarily relaxed during the pandemic, employers must consider and resolve employee privacy issues created by contact-tracing apps.  As businesses forge roadmaps to reopen, these apps offer innovative solutions to meet legal requirements imposed by OSHA and Centers for Disease Control.  This article explores what employers need to know about contact-tracing apps including how they work, the laws that govern, the impact to employee privacy, consent, and ways to mitigate risk associated with contact-tracing apps. Continue Reading Up Close & Personal: Contact-Tracing Apps & Employee Privacy

On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued new guidance (available here) detailing how employers can safely reopen offices following months of closure amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC guidance provides a step-by-step checklist for employers to follow to ensure that their office spaces are physically prepared for workers to return to work as they proceed with life beyond the pandemic.

When employees do return, offices are going to look a lot different from when they left. The CDC recommendations range from technical advice on ventilation systems to the abolition of the traditional handshake to employee temperature testing protocols. Key provisions are summarized below. Continue Reading Drastic Changes Coming to U.S. Offices as the CDC Recommends An Office Makeover