New California Laws Updates COVID-19 Reporting Requirements

A new California Law, dated September 17, 2020, was enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the key parts of the new law are the following

California OSHA authority to prohibit entry to a business due to employee risk of contracting COVID-19

The law updates the current California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 (OSHA) requirement that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health prohibit entry (and attach a conspicuous notice) when a place of employment (or a machine, device, or apparatus) is in a dangerous condition or constitutes an imminent hazard to employees. The notice can’t be removed except by an authorized OSHA personnel. A violation of this requirement is a crime.

The new law essentially extends the requirement so that the California OSHA division can prohibit entry and post a conspicuous notice when, in its opinion “A place of employment, operation, or process, or any part thereof, exposes workers to the risk of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19), so as to constitute an imminent hazard to employees.”

The law requires that the prohibition shouldn’t “materially interrupt the performance of critical governmental functions essential to ensuring public health and safety functions or the delivery of electrical power or water.”

The COVID-19 part of the bill will be repealed on January 1, 2023.

Reporting of COVID-19 exposures

Prior law required that employers file reports for every type of occupational injury or illness that results in lost time from work and that requires medical treatment beyond first aid – with the California Department of Industrial Relations. Serious occupational illnesses or death must be communicated by telephone or email.

The new law provides that if public and private employers (except where noted in the new law) receives “a notice of potential exposure to COVID-19”  – provide specified notifications to its employees within one business day of the notice of potential exposure.” The notice should be given to all employees and the employers of independent contractors – who were on the employer’s premises at the same worksite who may have been exposed. Other requirements apply.

The new law requires that employers keep notification records for at least three years. The new law also requires that if the employer is notified of cases that meet COVID-19 outbreak definition – that they notify the local public health agency.

The law also has additional provisions that govern “serious violations,” reimbursements to local agencies and school districts for certain state-mandated costs, and additional provisions regarding legislative findings.

At the California Law Offices of Stephen A. Danz and Associates, our employee rights lawyers keep current with new employee laws including COVID-19 laws. To discuss any employee rights concerns, please call us at 877-789-9707 or use our online contact form to make an appointment. Se Habla Espanol.