Environmental Health and Safety Training
December 21, 2022
On December 15, 2022, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“Cal/OSHA”) approved its proposed COVID-19 Permanent Standard regulations (“Permanent Standard”). The Permanent Standard takes effect on January 1, 2023, will remain in effect for two years, and replaces the current Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”).
Under the Permanent Standard, employers are no longer required to maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program. Instead, employers must address COVID-19 as a workplace hazard and include COVID-19 prevention procedures in the employer’s written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (“IIPP”) or in a separate document.
Other important differences between the Permanent Standard and the ETS include:
- The Permanent Standard requires employers to report major outbreaks to Cal/OSHA.
- Employers are no longer required to provide exclusion pay to employees excluded from the workplace due to COVID-19 illness or exposure.
- Employers may notify affected employees of COVID-19 cases in the workplace via postings, rather than by written notices.
Employers must provide effective COVID-19 prevention training to employees. The Permanent Standard does not include the ETS’s COVID-19-specific training requirements and instead provides that COVID-19 must be covered as part of employers’ existing safety training requirements in connection with their IIPPs. Unlike the ETS, the Permanent Standard does not specify what must be covered in the COVID-19 portion of employers’ safety training, leaving that determination up to employers. Nonetheless, rather than determining from scratch what include in the COVID-19 portion of their safety training, employers may wish to continue to cover the topics identified in the ETS, which have already been deemed sufficient by Cal/OSHA. Those topics are:
- Employer policies and procedures to protect employees from COVID-19 hazards and how to participate in the identification and evaluation of these hazards.
- Information regarding COVID-19-related benefits, either from the employer or from federal, state, or local governments, that may be available to employees impacted by COVID-19.
- The fact that COVID-19 is an infectious disease that can be spread through the air when an infectious person talks or vocalizes, sneezes, coughs, or exhales; that COVID-19 may be transmitted when a person touches a contaminated object and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth, although that is less common; and that an infectious person may have no symptoms.
- The fact that particles containing the virus can travel more than six feet, especially indoors, so physical distancing, face coverings, increased ventilation indoors, and respiratory protection decrease the spread of COVID-19, but are most effective when used in combination.
- Employer policies for providing respirators, and the right of employees to request a respirator for voluntary use, without fear of retaliation and at no cost to employees.
- When respirators are provided for voluntary use by employees, how to properly wear them and how to perform a seal check, and the fact that facial hair interferes with a seal.
- The importance of frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and using hand sanitizer when hand washing facilities are not available.
- Proper use of face coverings and the fact that face coverings are not respiratory protective equipment.
- That N95s and more protective respirators protect the users from COVID-19, an airborne disease, while face coverings primarily protect people around the user.
- COVID-19 symptoms, and the importance of not coming to work and obtaining a COVID-19 test if the employee has symptoms.
- Information on the employer’s COVID-19 policies; how to access COVID-19 testing and vaccination; and the fact that vaccination is effective at preventing COVID-19 and protecting against both transmission and serious illness or death.
- The conditions under which face coverings must be worn at the workplace and that employees can request face coverings from the employer at no cost to the employee and can wear them at work, regardless of vaccination status, without fear of retaliation.
With the adoption of the Permanent Standard, California employers must maintain their COVID prevention programs, including a compliant workplace training program, for at least the coming two years. Traliant’s interactive online COVID-19 Safe Workplace training helps employers navigate the rapidly evolving requirements and comply with Cal/OSHA’s mandatory training guidelines, as well as other state and federal requirements.
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Traliant is not a law firm and does not practice law. No attorney-client relationship is created by using Traliant’s training or consulting services.