Law & Order

California Implements Emergency COVID-19 Workplace Rules

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

On November 30, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) implemented new regulations designed to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks. The new rule applies to employers of all sizes, with the exception of workplaces with only one employee, employees working from home, and employees covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation.

The new regulation requires employers to implement the following protocols:

  • Prohibit workers exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 to return to worksites until their quarantine ends, and compensate employees throughout any quarantine.
  • Draft and implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program or ensure its elements are included in an existing Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).
  • Identify COVID-19 hazards, with input from employees, and correct any hazards identified.
  • Conduct contact tracing following any positive case that involved potential workplace exposure, and then notify and offer testing to potentially exposed employees.
  • Require social distancing and mask wearing, improve ventilation, and maximize outdoor air.
  • Report all outbreaks, which is defined as three or more cases in a 14-day period, to the public health department.
  • In any employer-provided housing, space beds six feet apart, eliminate the use of bunk beds, and disinfect beds daily.
  • In employer-provided transportation, screen workers prior to boarding, and require them to sit three feet apart and wear face coverings.

Cal/OSHA has published an FAQ resource to assist employers in understanding and complying with the emergency regulation, which includes a sample COVID-19 Prevention Program that employers may utilize.

Cal/OSHA will host a December 18 stakeholder meeting to discuss possible amendments to the COVID-19 emergency standard. SEMA is part of a coalition led by the California Chamber of Commerce that submitted comments in response to the regulation.

For more information, contact Christian Robinson at