The Saqui Law Group has learned that the Cal/OSHA Enforcement Branch plans to enforce COVID-19 face covering guidance under the safety regulations for exposure to hazardous “Dust, Fumes, Mists, Vapors, and Gases.”  

Until now, Cal/OSHA has issued citations for inadequate use of face coverings as a failure to effectively implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (e.g., by failing to ensure that employees use face coverings and maintain social distancing). Cal/OSHA cites this as a violation of Section 3203(a) of its General Industry Safety Orders.  

Just as we have seen before, the California legislature has again weighed in on the conditions of employment settlement agreements. Prior to January 1, 2020, California employers regularly included a “no-rehire” provision in settlement agreements. A “no-rehire” provision meant that the worker entering into the settlement agreement could not be considered for rehire. Effective January 1, 2020, Assembly Bill ("AB") 749 prohibited “no-rehire” provisions in settlement agreements, except under limited circumstances. The relevant Civil Code section 1002.5 states:

In response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill (“AB”) 685, requiring employers to notify every employee of potential COVID-19 exposure at the workplace. Governor Newsom signed AB 685 into law and it will go into effect on January 1, 2021. AB 685 will bring the following changes to employers in California:

Expand Cal/OSHA’s Power to Issue Stop Work Orders

AB 685 expands Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue Stop Work Orders for workplaces that pose risk of an “imminent hazard” in relation to COVID-19. This “imminent hazard” is a hazard that threatens immediate and serious physical harm. This allows Cal/OSHA to prohibit entry into a section of a business or place of employment where there is an imminent risk of COVID-19 exposure and requires the immediate area where the imminent hazard exists to be prohibited. Violation of this law order is considered a criminal offense.

AB 2043: Cal/OSHA’s “Workers’ Rights Media Campaign” Coming to a Farm Near You

By: The Saqui Law Group and Jorge Lopez Espindola

California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Cal/OSHA”) will now work with community organizations and unions to conduct a statewide outreach campaign targeting Ag workers. Assembly Bill (“AB”) 2043, effective immediately, requires Cal/OSHA to inform agricultural workers of any COVID-19 related employment benefits they may be entitled to. The media campaign will include radio advertising and distribution of workplace signs in both Spanish and English.

OSHA Provides Reporting Guidance for COVID-19 Related Hospitalization and Fatalities

By: The Saqui Law Group and Christina Anton

On September 30, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued reporting guidance for COVID-19 related hospitalization and fatalities. You may review the guidance here.

The guidance clarifies that the term “incident” means “an exposure to SARS-coV-2 in the workplace.” Therefore, employers are only obligated to report an employee’s hospitalization if the employee is admitted to the hospital for in-patient treatment within 24-hours of being exposed to COVID-19 at work. Further, an employer is only obligated to report an employee’s fatality if the employee dies within 30 days of an exposure to COVID-19 at work.

As we previously reported here, SB-1102 would have required, among other things, H-2A employers to compensate employees at their regular rate of pay for  “time spent while being transported by the employer or its agents from the housing provided by the employer or its agents to the employer’s or agent’s worksite.” An altered version of SB 1102 was passed by the State legislature. On September 28, 2020, Governor Newsom vetoed the Bill. His veto message is available here.

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