California’s OSHA has recently revised their COVID-19 ETS, which will stay into effect until December 31, 2022. Under this standard, employers are still required to comply with COVID-19 safety measures including health screening, mandatory testing in certain circumstances, and contact tracing. Additionally, per Cal/OSHA Assembly Bill 685 they can issue citations to employers for serious violations related to COVID-19 without giving 15-day notice before issuance until January 1, 2023. They have previously issued citations ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 for serious COVID-19-related violations.
There has been discussion of Cal/OSHA’s ETS becoming a permanent standard, and there is a chance that we will see a permanent infectious disease standard arise when the current ETS expires.
Cal/OSHA ETS Employer Requirements
All employers are required to create a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan or ensure this is outlined in their current Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). Employers need to ensure their plan satisfies the following criteria:
- Identifies, examines, and eliminates COVID-19 threats to safety
- Communicates mask guidance as specified in the ETS
- Manages a protocol to investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases in the workplace
- Uses PPE, engineering, and administrative controls when needed
- Make COVID-19 training available to employees
- Provide testing at no cost to all symptomatic or exposed employees
- Follow the appropriate testing and exclusion protocol as defined by ETS for ‘outbreaks’ and ‘major outbreak’
- Exclude COVID-19 cases and exposed employees from the office until they are no longer an infection risk and follow return to work criteria. For more information on this topic, please refer to the section in this FAQ on CDPH’s Isolation and Quarantine Guidance.
- Keeping record of COVID-19 cases, and report serious illnesses and outbreaks to Cal/OSHA and to the local health department when required
Cal/OSHA has provided a Model COVID-19 Prevention Program document for employers to use for reference.
What is the Penalty for Failure to Comply with ETS?
Employers face detrimental consequences if they do not comply with ETS including legal, financial, and reputational liabilities. As with any violation, Cal/OSHA has the authority to issue a citation and require abatement for violations of Cal/OSHA standards. Violations can also lead to a significant financial and reputational loss for employers.
Employees and consumers want to know that companies are prioritizing their employees' health. Amidst the great resignation, qualified candidates are looking for employers who prioritize their health and safety.
Simplify Compliance and Embrace Digital Tools
Employers can avoid penalties by establishing proactive measures to meet Cal/OSHA’s ETS requirements. In order to avoid overloading HR or any other safety department, companies will need a streamlined COVID management program.
Digital tools can reduce the administrative burden by 3-4x so teams only need to spend a few hours a week to ensure compliance with their program.
How ReturnSafe Helps You Comply with the Cal/OSHA ETS
ReturnSafe’s HR Command Center helps 100s of employers meet state and local compliance requirements with easy to use testing, screening, vaccine tracking, and case management tools!
See how our tools make it easy to satisfy Cal/OSHA's ETS guidelines!
|Identifies, examines, and eliminates COVID-19 threats to safety
||Yes, HR can identify and respond to risk through the Command Center.
Use PPE, engineering, and administrative controls when needed
Manage a protocol to investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases in the workplace
|Yes, HR can manage this process with our Case Management Dashboard.
|Follow the appropriate testing and exclusion protocol as defined by ETS for ‘outbreaks’ and ‘major outbreak’
|Exclude COVID-19 cases and exposed employees from the office until they are no longer an infection risk and follow return to work criteria. For more information on this topic, please refer to the section in this FAQ on CDPH’s Isolation and Quarantine Guidance.
|Keeping record of COVID-19 cases, and report serious illnesses and outbreaks to Cal/OSHA and to the local health department when required
|Provide testing at no cost to all symptomatic or exposed employees
||Yes, the process can be managed through our Test Tracking Dashboard and Employee App.
|Communicates mask guidance as specified in the ETS
||Yes, this can be done with our Custom reports feature.
Make COVID-19 training available to employees
|Contact us if interested in a custom onboarding including training.
As illustrated, ReturnSafe can easily help you meet Cal/OSHA compliance requirements. Our tools are currently helping several California employers meet state and local regulations while saving time and money. Interested in learning more? Talk to our team.
Prepare for a Potentially Permanent Infectious Disease Standard
There is a chance that the ETS becomes a permanent infectious disease standard. States such as California, New Jersey, Utah, and Missouri are already treating COVID-19 as endemic. HR leaders should prepare a plan to meet shifting state and local requirements as COVID waves emerge. According to the Harvard Business Review, although many executives are hit with pandemic fatigue, businesses who prepare in this manner will stand out from the competition by staying ahead of outbreaks.
Start preparing your COVID-19 response plan and take our quick assessment to identify your organization’s current risk level.
For more information about ReturnSafe COVID solutions click here.