The new normal requires organizations to change the way they conduct their operations, and your organization should incorporate these changes in your Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (“IIPP”). California Labor Code requires every employer to have a written program identifying workplace hazards and train employees on how to deal with them. The Labor Code also requires employers to update their IIPP as new risks emerge.
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, California Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“Cal/OSHA”) issued the “Interim General Guidelines on Protecting Workers from Covid-19.” Under the Interim guidelines, certain types of organizations must comply with Cal/OSHA’s “Aerosol Transmissible Diseases” (“ATD”) stricter standards. The ATD applies to hospitals, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and other workplaces that are considered particularly vulnerable.
Regardless, whether your organization is subject to the ATD standards, employers should include in their IIPP a section addressing COVID-19 and have the following items:
- Encourage sick employees to stay home
- Immediately send sick employees home or to medical care
- Ensure employees who are out with fever or
acute respiratory illness symptoms do not return to work until:
- They have had no fever (without the use of fever-reducing drugs) and no acute respiratory illness symptoms for at least three days; and
- At least ten days have passed since the symptoms have first appeared
- Practice physical distancing by using video or telephonic meetings and maintaining a distance of at least six feet between persons at the workplace when possible
- Provide employees with cloth face covers or encourage employees to utilize their own
- Avoid shared workspaces (desks, cubicles, and
offices) and work items (phones, computers, and other work equipment)
- If the workspace and work equipment must be shared, clean and disinfect them before and after each use
- Establish procedures to routinely cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched objects and surfaces, such as handrails, elevator buttons, copy machines, and doorknobs.
- If your employee contracts COVID-19:
- Inform employees of possible exposure to an infected employee but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Temporarily close the general area where the infected employee worked until it is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
- Conduct deep cleaning of the general area where the infected employee worked and may have been in contact, such as the breakroom, restroom, and travel areas. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service to deep clean the general area. The person cleaning should be equipped with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Organizations whose operations require frequent contact with the public should take the following additional steps:
- Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces touched by the public (e.g., credit card machines, touchscreens, shopping carts)
- Protect employees and guests by requiring anyone entering your premises to wear face coverings
- Enforce physical distance measures by limiting the number of people in your premises
- Schedule work to allow employees to wash their hands frequently
- Provide employees handling items touched by the public with PPE (e.g., disposable gloves)
Above is not an exhaustive list of items that should be included in your IIPP. Your HR administrator or Employment Attorney should review your IIPP to ensure compliance with Cal/Osha guidelines. Your IIPP will only mitigate exposure if you enforce procedures and continuously provide employees with safety training. Governor Newsom enacted a new executive order making it easier for employees to file COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims. It is imperative to implement and enforce your IIPP to mitigate the exposure to the virus.
Let us know if you have any questions or concerns regarding workers’ compensation or would like us to provide you with a quote. We are here to help!