Update:  CaOSHA COVID-19 Emergency Regulation Effective Immediately

The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the CalOSHA COVID-19 Emergency Regulation as adopted by the CalOSHA Standards Board on November 19, 2020.  The Emergency Regulation is effective immediately and will expire in 180 days, at which point CalOSHA can either readopt it or initiate a full regulatory process to adopt a permanent regulation.

The Cal/OSHA Consultation webinar “COVID-19, Cal/OSHA, and Agriculture…What You Need to Know as an Employer” originally scheduled for Monday, December 7 has been postponed due to the adoption of new emergency COVID-19 regulations. The webinar is being updated to include the new regulatory requirements and a new date will be announced soon.

In brief, the emergency regulation includes the following elements:

  • Employers will be required to have a written COVID-19 Prevention Program, which can be incorporated into the IIPP or be a stand-alone document
  • Employers must identify, evaluate and correct COVID-19 hazards, the first two with the participation of employees and their authorized representatives;
  • Employers must investigate and “respond effectively to COVID-19 cases and notify employees who might have been exposed within one day.  Employees who have not been exposed must be offered COVID-19 testing at no cost;
  • COVID-19 cases in the workplace must be reported to local health authorities;
  • Physical distancing and mandatory mask-wearing are required unless it is not possible.  The burden will be on the employer to demonstrate that either physical distancing or mask-wearing is not feasible;
  • Return-to-work provisions for employee COVID-19 cases;
  • There are specific and more stringent requirements for multiple COVID-19 infections and outbreaks in the workplace;
  • COVID-19 prevention procedures in employer-provided housing, such as labor camps, and employer-provided transportation to and from work.

The Emergency Regulation is a combination of existing CalOSHA guidelines and notification requirements set forth in AB 685, passed by the legislature earlier this year.  The regulation, does, however, impose new requirements and liability on employers with regard to employee compensation and benefits and employer-provided transportation and housing.

CCM joined with numerous other agricultural associations in challenging the justification for this regulation; the authorities it grants to CalOSHA which are arguably outside the jurisdiction of the Division; and the process by which the regulation was adopted.

The full text of the regulation can be found here.  A legal summary prepared by Kahn, Soares, and Conway LLP can be found here, and a bullet-point summary of the new requirements can be found here.

We will continue to keep you updated as this issue evolves.  If you have questions, please contact Alyssa Houtby, CCM Director of Government Affairs, at alyssa@cacitrusmutual.com or (559) 592-3790.

Additional COVID-19 Resources for Employers (Quick Links)

CDPH/CalOSHA – Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace for Employers
CalOSHA – COVID-19 Daily Checklist for Agricultural Employers (July 21, 2020)
CalOSHA – General Checklist for Agricultural Employers (July 21, 2020)





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