Cal/OSHA Releases New Guidelines for General Industry on COVID-19

By Andrea Sumits, Partner

On May 14, 2020, Cal/OSHA released updated Interim Guidelines for General Industry on 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Cal/OSHA has been relatively quiet until now. The agency posted an early version of Interim Guidelines on March 4, which included a very limited set of infection prevention measures and a recommendation to follow CDC guidelines, including the recommendation to create an infectious disease outbreak response plan.

The newly updated Cal/OSHA Interim Guidelines provide an expanded list of specific prevention measures for incorporation into your IIPP, and affirmatively states: “For most California workplaces, adopting changes to their IIPP is mandatory since COVID-19 is widespread in the community.” This makes it clear that Cal/OSHA expects employers to update their IIPP with listed COVID-19 infection prevention measures and to provide additional employee training. In addition, the updated Interim Guidelines reiterate that an employer must provide adequate washing facilities, have suitable cleansing agents and supplies, and provide any necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees.

Certain measures now recommended by Cal/OSHA vary in nuanced ways from CDC Guidelines. Employers would be well-served to carefully construct the updates to their IIPPs and other COVID-19 planning documents in a manner that will satisfy both CDC and Cal/OSHA Guidelines. By Andrea Sumits, Partner

Andrea is a Partner at Environmental General Counsel LLP. She handles a wide range of environmental and occupational health & safety matters.She advises companies in the consumer product, commercial office, retail, residential, industrial, and hospitality sectors on regulatory compliance and represents clients in agency enforcement actions.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice


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