February 26, 2021

Volume XI, Number 57

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Cal/OSHA Recommends Emergency COVID-19 Regulation With PPE and Training Provisions

On May 20, 2020, worker advocates submitted a petition for an emergency COVID-19 safety standard demanding additional COVID-19 regulations for those employees not covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard . The ATD standard was codified in 2009 “to protect employees who are at increased risk of contracting certain airborne infections due to their work activities.” The petition included specific requests to adopt standards related to social distancing, ventilation systems, personal hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), employee training, and recordkeeping.

On August 10, 2020, staff members of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health more commonly known as Cal/OSHA, recommended that the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board do the following: 1) promulgate an emergency COVID-19 regulation and 2) convene an advisory committee to determine whether a permanent regulation should be drafted to protect workers from novel pathogens. In support of its recommendation, Cal/OSHA cited a lack of regulations addressing infectious diseases for workers outside of healthcare settings, including alleged gaps in regulations governing PPE for construction workers and mining employees.

In contrast, the legal staff for the Standards Board suggested that both the petition for the emergency COVID-19 regulation and the recommendations above be denied, citing the need to enforce existing regulations. They explained that new regulations would place additional regulatory burdens on California businesses that are already in compliance with the state’s COVID-19 requirements and guidelines. They also rationalized that the limited resources for enforcement should be focused on employers and sectors of the economy with deficient COVID-19 protections.

Public comments are expected at the next Cal/OSHA Standards Board meeting on August 20, 2020, and a decision on whether to adopt new COVID-19 regulations will occur at a future meeting.

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© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 238
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About this Author

Karen Tynan, employment lawyer, Ogletree Deakins
Of Counsel

Karen Tynan is an of counsel attorney in the Sacramento office of Ogletree Deakins. Karen is originally from the state of Georgia, and after graduating with honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, she worked for Chevron Shipping Company for ten years – sailing as a ship's officer on oil tankers rising to the rank of Chief Officer with her Unlimited Master’s License as well as San Francisco Bay pilotage endorsement.  Karen was the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet when she left her seafaring life.  This maritime and petroleum experience is unique among employment...

918 840 3150
Jennnifer Yanni Labor & Employment Attorney Ogletree Deakins Law Firm
Associate

Jennifer Yanni has spent the entirety of her legal career litigating labor and employment issues. She began her practice representing plaintiffs against national corporations and second-chaired an arbitration that resulted in a six-figure award in a rare reverse-discrimination suit. For the past five years, she has represented employers on a wide range of labor and employment issues. She has defended employers in a variety of industries in cases involving discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and disability; wage and hour disputes involving claims of unpaid overtime...

714-800-7900
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