October 20, 2020

Volume X, Number 294

October 19, 2020

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Cal/OSHA Issues Guidance for Logistics and Warehousing Facilities

On May 7, 2020, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), better known as Cal/OSHA, issued its COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Logistics and Warehousing Facilities, which provides detailed guidance to logistics and warehouse facilities on how to support a safe and clean work environment for workers in order to avoid the outbreak and transmittal of COVID-19 in the workplace. The guidance includes a discussion of five key areas of interest for employers during the COVID-19 crisis: a worksite specific plan; topics for employee training; individual control measures and screening; an overview of cleaning and disinfecting protocols; and physical distancing guidelines.

Absent a comprehensive worksite specific plan and adherence to the plan, Cal/OSHA warns that facilities could face operations being temporarily closed or limited in the event of an outbreak in the workplace.

Key Elements of Guidance

Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 General Checklist for Logistics and Warehousing Employers, which summarizes the guidance, identifies the specific elements of the five areas of interest listed above. Here are the key points employers need to know about this new guidance:

Written worksite-specific prevention plan

The guidance encourages employers to create “a written worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan” that includes the following:

  1. a risk assessment;

  2. the measures that employers will take to prevent the spread of the virus based on the risk assessment;

  3. regularly evaluating the workplace for plan compliance, and documenting and correcting deficiencies;

  4. investigating COVID-19 cases; and

  5. “processes to identify new cases of illness in the workplaces, and when they are identified,” to quickly intervene and notify the local health department.

The guidance directs employers to designate a worker who will be responsible for implementing the plan. It also directs employers to “[t]rain and communicate with employees and employee representatives on the plan.”

Employee training

In addition to training on the plan, the guidance reminds employers to train workers on the following COVID-19 topics: information on the disease, “[s]elf-screening at home,” the importance of hand washing, “[t]he importance of physical distancing,” and the “[p]roper use of face coverings.” Importantly, the guidance recommends training workers to stay home if they are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 or if they live with someone that has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Individual control measures and screening

The guidance recommends that employers reinforce the training they provide to workers by encouraging them to stay home if they are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, wash their hands frequently, and use face coverings, among other recommendations. The guidance states that employers “should provide and ensure workers use all required protective equipment” and consider the use of disposable gloves for certain workers. The guidance includes temperature checks and symptom screenings among recommended individual control measures and screenings.

Cleaning and disinfecting protocols

The guidance reminds employers of the importance cleaning and disinfecting protocols and providing workers time before and after their shifts to implement these protocols (and that workers who are assigned cleaning duties must be compensated for the time spent cleaning). The guidance also highlights unique issues that delivery drivers may be facing.

The guidance advises workers to inspect deliveries and, if the items appear to have been tampered with, perform disinfection measures before storing them in a facility.

Physical distancing

Finally, the guidance emphasizes the importance of implementing strategies that allow for physical distancing including, but not limited to, using “work practices” to limit the number of workers present within a facility and allow for physical distancing. For example, employers can stagger shift start/end times and breaks.

The guidance does not substitute any existing safety and health-related regulatory requirements such as those of Cal/OSHA nor is it exhaustive as it does not include county health orders.

Key Takeaways

The guidance reminds employers of the importance of ensuring a safe and clean work environment for workers and educating workers on COVID-19, including its symptoms and how the virus is transmitted. Perhaps the most critical feature of the guidance is the recommendation that employers create a written COVID-19 prevention plan because this will assist in avoiding confusion among workers as to the safety measures being implemented and expectations.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 135

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About this Author

Robert R. Roginson labor and employment litigation lawyer Ogletree Deakins Law Firm
Shareholder

Robert Roginson is the Managing Shareholder of the Los Angeles Office and Chair of the Firm’s Trucking and Logistics Industry Group.  His practice focuses on all aspects of California and federal wage and hour and pay practice counseling and class action defense.

Mr. Roginson represents employers in administrative agency investigations and state and federal class action litigation. Mr. Roginson has defended dozens of employers, motor carriers, and other companies in class actions and PAGA lawsuits involving a variety of allegations, including...

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Carmen M. Aguado Labor & Employment Attorney Ogletree Deakins Law Firm
Associate

Carmen Aguado is an associate in the firm’s Los Angeles office, and her practice focuses on defending employers in single plaintiff employment matters filed in state and federal court. Carmen has substantial experience defending employers against claims of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), wrongful termination claims, and whistleblower actions. In addition to employment matters, prior to joining Ogletree, Carmen litigated high-exposure personal injury matters.

Carmen received her Juris Doctor from the Loyola Law School in 2013.  While in law school, Carmen served as a Production Editor of the Loyola Entertainment Law Review and published her article, Facebook or Face Bank, 32 Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 187 (2012).

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