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LA County Changes COVID-19 Guidance

7 Jul

Corona

July 1, 2020 – Jackson Lewis LLP.

NEW- requirement to report if 3 or more employees in a workplace are identified with COVID-19

Los Angeles County has been the epicenter of COVID-19 in California, and it is only getting worse. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LA Department of Public Health) recently announced that daily hospitalizations have been significantly higher than in past weeks. Accordingly, LA County released new and updated guidance to help stop the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace. The guidance includes more stringent employee screenings, requirements to report a cluster of confirmed COVID-19 cases, updates to LA County Reopening Protocols, and requirements that all employees who have regular contact with others wear a face covering or an alternative, regardless of medical conditions.

More Stringent Employee Screenings

LA Department of Public Health has released an Employee Screening form. The form requires employees who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms (defined as fever, chills, cough, shortnerss of breath, or difficulty breathing) within the past 10 days to be sent home immediately. The form otherwise follows CDC guidance in that employees should also be sent home immediately if they: (1) have an elevated body temperature greater than or equal to 100.4ºF or 38ºC or (2) have had any contact with a person with COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.

Employers Required to Report Clusters of Confirmed Cases

LA Department of Public Health has also updated the Protocol for Social Distancing. In the event that three or more COVID-19 cases are identified within the workplace within a span of 14 days, the employer should report the cluster to the LA Department of Public Health at (888) 397-3993 or (213) 240-7821. A case manager will then be assigned to guide the facility response and provide technical support, implement infection control guidances, and provide site-specific control measures. LA Department of Public Health has released a poster containing this information.

LA County Protocols Updated

LA County Reopening Protocols have also been updated to reflect the changes in the Protocol for Social Distancing. For example, the Office Workspaces guidance addresses the more stringent health screenings, the reporting of clusters of COVID-19 cases and information of face coverings, including that employees be instructed to wash their face coverings daily.

Please keep in mind that the changes in LA County protocols directly impact businesses located in the City of Los Angeles as Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Safer L.A.” Emergency Order relies upon LA County protocols. Thus, it is very important that businesses located in LA County and the City of Los Angeles continue to monitor LA County Reopening Protocols as they are continuously updated. For example, cardrooms, satellite wagering facilities, and racetracks with onsite wagering are prohibited from allowing the consumption of food and/or beverages at gaming tables, and beaches are closed from July 3 – July 6, 2020.

Face Coverings and Medical Conditions

LA Department of Public Health also has released guidance for individuals with medical conditions who are unable to wear a face covering. In the Guidance for Cloth Face Covering, it was explained that “[i]ndividuals who are exempt from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition and who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others must wear an alternative such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge.”

What Employers Should Know Now

Many California localities have released guidance and provisions with the intention to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Currently, the risk of spreading the disease is exemplified in Los Angeles County and more stringent standards have been put into place.

California’s Face Mask Requirements Can Help Keep Businesses Open

Face Mask Required

Katie Culliton  June 30, 2020

It’s been almost two weeks since the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) required Californians to wear a cloth face mask when outside the home, with limited exceptions. As cases of COVID-19 rise, it’s becoming increasingly more important to wear a mask to slow the disease’s spread — and ultimately, the face mask requirement helps businesses to stay open during these uncertain times.

In response to California seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases in some counties, the CDPH required seven counties to close their bars immediately and recommended eight other counties do the same. Bars were targeted specifically because these environments lead to reduced compliance of personal protective measures, including use of face coverings, and they require raised voices, which leads to greater projection of potentially infected droplets.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds us that cloth face coverings help protect people around you and most likely reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used in public settings. Requiring employees and customers wear face coverings helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, which in turn keeps businesses open.

Remember, California’s June 18 Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings included that Californians must wear a face covering when engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:

  • Interacting in-person with any member of the public;
  • Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
  • Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
  • Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities; and
  • In any room or enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance.

Individuals are exempt from these guidelines in limited circumstances. California also has industry-specific guidance on reducing the risk of COVID-19, which includes childcare, day camps, delivery services, office workspaces and real estate transactions.

Keep an eye out for updated requirements as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

Additional $600 Unemployment Payment Expiration Date Looms Near

Covid 19 Unemployment

By John J. Porta, Hadley M. Simonett, Keerthi Sugumaran and Carolyn A. Trotta

  • June 26, 2020 -Jackson Lewis, PC.

As businesses begin to reopen and many workers return to work, one of the main provisions of the CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, is set to expire next month. Section 2104 of the CARES Act created the federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which provides all individuals who receive state unemployment benefits an additional $600 per week for up to four months funded by the federal government. Created as a short-term benefit, the additional $600 FPUC benefit will expire “on or before July 31, 2020.”

The exact expiration date depends on how the state defines the unemployment benefit week. The majority of states follow a Saturday-to-Saturday or Sunday-to-Sunday benefit week for purposes of unemployment compensation. For states whose benefit week ends on a Saturday, the final week FPUC is payable is the week ending July 25, 2020. For states whose benefit week ends on a Sunday, the final payable week is the week ending July 26, 2020.

While the House of Representatives passed an extension of the FPUC benefit in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the bill has faced strong opposition in the Senate.

Although the FPUC benefit expires next month, the expanded benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program are in effect until December 31, 2020. The PUA provides workers who are ineligible for regular state benefits (such as independent contractors) unemployment benefits funded by the federal government. For more information on the PUA program and other benefits under the CARES Act, see our article, President Trump Signs Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

Heat Illness – A Real Menace

30 Jun

Heat Illness

Workplace Safety Measures and Heat Illness Tools

Now approaching the summer season heat and as employers begin to return to work (RTW) after months of COVID-19 quarantine, they may be out of shape, out of practice on workplace safety procedures, and will be required to re-breathe hot air through face coverings.
As employers focus on COVID-19 RTW efforts, it is vital that they remain aware of risks of safety rule violations, injuries, and heat illness.
Prepare Employers & Employees for a Hot Summer:
  1. Have a Written Heat Illness Plan and a post a copy where outdoor employees are working. If you have not updated your plan in the past three years, it will not be compliant with Cal/OSHA’s current rules. Our CalWorkSafety & HR, LLC team can help you quickly update.
  2. Memorize these three words: Water – Rest – Shade. Ideally, workers require cool water as often as possible, but they may need sports beverages containing balanced electrolytes if they are sweating for several hours at a time. Employers should ensure workers can access shaded or air-conditioned rest areas to cool down as needed.
  3. New and temporary workers are most at risk. The body takes time to build a tolerance to heat (more than 70% of outdoor heat fatalities occur during a worker’s first week of working in warm or hot environments); building tolerance is called “acclimatization.” Our Heat Safety experts help companies create a Heat Illness Prevention Plan to ensure all employees are fully trained and acclimatized in the 1st work week.
  4. Indoor workers also suffer from heat illness. Kitchens, laundries, warehouses, foundries, boiler rooms and many other indoor work environments can become dangerously hot. Click below to view Cal OSHA’s workers High-Risk occupation list.
  5. Use engineering controls or modify work practices to protect employees. By increasing ventilation using cooling fans; scheduling work at a cooler time of the day; rotate job functions among workers to minimize heat exposure. Refer to the Best Practices OSHA resource.
  6. Familiarize everyone at your workplace with the Signs and Symptoms of Heat Ilness from CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention): and ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency. This includes:
  7. Common heat exhaustion signs present: dizziness, headaches, cramps, sweaty skin, nausea and vomiting, weakness, and a fast heartbeat. Heat stroke symptoms may include red, hot, dry skin; convulsions; fainting; very high temperature and confusion. Also: Pair workers with a buddy to observe each other for early signs and symptoms of heat illness … as well as Employees should call a supervisor for help if they believe someone is ill – and 911 if a supervisor is not available, or if someone shows signs of heat stroke. CalWorkSafety & HR offers training materials to help you!
  8. To help calculate the heat index at your worksite download the iPhone or Android device application – which provides specific recommendations for planning work activities and preventing heat illness based on the estimated risk level where employees are working.
  9. Ensure workers and supervisors know the location where they are working and how to direct emergency responders to your work site if needed.
  10. On high heat days, keep extra watch on workers health and stress need to drink water frequently and use cooling off breaks if needed – When the temperature equals or exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool Features offers a visual indicator of the current heat index and associated risk levels specific to your current geographical location; Precautionary recommendations specific to heat index-associated risk levels; An interactive, hourly forecast of heat index values, risk level, and recommendations for planning outdoor work activities in advance; Editable location, temperature, and humidity controls for calculation of variable conditions and Signs and symptoms and first aid information for heat-related illnesses.
The Bottom Line
As Workers continue to Return to Work After a Prolonged
Absence Due to COVID-19
Employers should be more vigilant in refreshing employee training, especially as it relates to heat illness prevention and other safety requirements. Return to work may necessitate generalized retraining on core safety rules. We know that you will face challenging decisions during this national crisis. Please be assured that we are here to help you meet your evolving needs and thrive.

Employers Must Post Certain Notices Upon Re-opening in Orange, San Diego, and Los Angeles Counties

1 Jun

May 30, 2020 from Payne & Fears PC

Reopen

As counties move to re-open businesses, many counties have issued requirements for businesses to post notices regarding their compliance with safe re-opening protocols.

Orange County

On May 29, 2020, and effective the same day, the County Health Officer of the Orange County Health Care Agency issued an amended order and strong recommendations to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Included in this amended order was a mandate that all businesses, industries, and entities listed on the state’s websites on industry guidance and county roadmaps that reopen in Orange County as part of Stage 2 of the State’s Resilience Roadmap post certain notices. All re-opening businesses, industries, and entities must post the following in a location visible to the public at the public entrances of each property:

  1. Industry-specific checklist. The State of California has prepared checklists for a variety of industries and businesses to help these employers implement their plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These checklists can be found here. Scroll down to find your industry/business type and press the “+” on the right side. The checklists will be linked below.
  2. An attestation by the owner and/or operator that the business has:
  • Performed a detailed risk assessment and implemented a site-specific protection plan;
  • Trained employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them;
  • Implemented individual control measures and screenings;
  • Implemented disinfecting protocols; and
  • Implemented physical distancing guidelines.

San Diego County

San Diego County has a similar mandate effective as of May 27, 2020: All reopened businesses, other than restaurants providing dine-in services, must prepare and post a “Safe Reopening Plan” on this form for each of their facilities in the county. Restaurants providing dine-in services must prepare and post a “COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol” on this form for each restaurant in the county. These documents must be posted at or near the entrance of the relevant facility and shall be easily viewable by the public and employees. Note that a copy of the Safe Reopening Plan or COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol must also be provided to each employee performing work at the facility.

Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County has had similar notice requirements in place. Relevant businesses must post the relevant protocol notice at or near the entrance to the facility so that it is easily viewable by the public and employees. The required protocol that a business must post depends on the type of business. The order describes what protocol businesses need to post. The relevant information of the order starts on page 8. LA also has a website with available signs for businesses to post.

Other counties have similar requirements.

Small Business Administration Issues Additional Guidance on Forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program Loans

PPP-loan-forgiveness-guidelines-payroll-457x305

By Melissa Ostrower and Robert R. Perry May 26, 2020, Jackson Lewis PC

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued guidance on the forgiveness provisions applicable to loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created by the CARES Act.

The SBA was required to issue guidance on these provisions within 30 days of the enactment of the CARES Act, or no later than April 26, 2020. On May 15, 2020, the SBA issued guidance in the form of the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and Instructions. On May 22, 2020, the SBA issued additional guidance in the form of an Interim Final Rule.

(For details on PPP, see our article, Paycheck Protection Program Loans: Basics for Small Businesses, Sole Proprietorships.)

The Forgiveness Application answers many questions, including:

  1. Is there flexibility in determining Covered Period?

Under previously issued guidance, the SBA made clear that the Covered Period is the eight-week (56-day) period following the date the PPP loan proceeds are disbursed. For example, if the employer received its PPP loan proceeds on Monday, April 20, the first day of the Covered Period is April 20 and the last day of the Covered Period is Sunday, June 14.

In the Forgiveness Application, the SBA has introduced an Alternative Payroll Covered Period concept. Under this alternative, employers with a biweekly (or more frequent) payroll schedule may elect to calculate eligible payroll costs using the eight-week (56-day) period that begins on the first day of their first pay period following their PPP Loan Disbursement Date (Alternative Payroll Covered Period). For example, if the employer received its PPP loan proceeds on Monday, April 20, and the first day of its first pay period following its PPP loan disbursement is Sunday, April 26, the first day of the Alternative Payroll Covered Period is April 26 and the last day of the Alternative Payroll Covered Period is Saturday, June 20.

  1. What are “costs incurred and payments made” during the Covered Period?

The Forgiveness Application provides: “Borrowers are generally eligible for forgiveness for the payroll costs paid and payroll costs incurred during the eight-week (56-day) Covered Period (or Alternative Payroll Covered Period).” (Emphasis added.) Costs that are incurred but not paid during the applicable period are eligible for forgiveness if they are paid on or before the next regular payroll date (for payroll costs) or before the next regular billing date (for nonpayroll costs.)

Additionally, the Forgiveness Application provides that eligible nonpayroll costs eligible for forgiveness include expenses paid during the Covered Period or incurred during the Covered Period and paid on or before the next regular billing date, even if the billing date is after the Covered Period. This provision appears to permit the payment of past due eligible nonpayroll costs during the applicable period (subject to the 25% limitation on nonpayroll costs).

  1. What does “full-time equivalent employee” mean?

The Forgiveness Application is the first guidance to shed light on the meaning of “full-time equivalent.” This critical term was not defined in the CARES Act or addressed in any other guidance issued.

To calculate the average full-time equivalency (FTE) during the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period, determine the average number of hours paid for each employee per week, divide by 40, and round the result to the nearest one-tenth (but in no event greater than 1.0). Employers with a workforce that has a lower headcount but greater hours and earnings (such as a nursing home) get no extra credit (and could actually be penalized, depending on applicable facts and circumstances) under this formula. A simplified method that assigns a 1.0 for employees who work 40 hours or more per week and 0.5 for employees who work fewer hours may be used at the election of the employer.

The reference to “employee” and “paid” in this definition suggests that furloughed employees or other employees receiving pay while not rendering services should be included in the FTE calculation. However, as terminated employees are generally no longer considered to be “employees,” it is unlikely that former employees who are receiving pay can be included.

  1. If an employer decides to pay furloughed employees or to give employees bonuses or raises during the Covered Period or Alternative Payroll Covered Period, do these count as payroll costs?

When calculating cash payroll costs under the Forgiveness Application, the borrower is directed to include the sum of gross salary, gross wages, gross tips, gross commissions, paid leave (vacation, family, medical or sick leave, not including leave covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act), and allowances for dismissal or separation paid or incurred during the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period (subject to the $100,000 annual salary cap, as prorated for the Covered Period).

The Interim Final Rule clarifies that:

  • If a borrower pays furloughed employees their salary, wages, or commissions during the Covered Period, those payments are eligible for forgiveness, as long as they do not exceed an annual salary of $100,000, as prorated for the Covered Period; and
  • If an employee’s total compensation does not exceed $100,000 on an annualized basis, the employee’s hazard pay and bonuses are eligible for loan forgiveness, because they constitute a supplement to salary or wages, and are thus a similar form of compensation.
  1. Are some FTE reductions excluded?

Yes. The Forgiveness Application recognizes it is appropriate to exclude certain employees from the FTE calculation. The following FTE reductions do not reduce an employer’s loan forgiveness:

  • Any positions for which the employer made a good-faith, written offer to rehire an employee during the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period that was rejected by the employee (previously announced in FAQ 40); and
  • Any employees who during the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period (a) were fired for cause, (b) voluntarily resigned, or (c) voluntarily requested and received a reduction of their hours.

The Interim Final Rule adds the following requirement to the rehire provision: The employer must have informed the applicable state unemployment insurance office of each employee’s rejected offer of reemployment within 30 days of the employee’s rejection of the offer. Further information regarding how borrowers will report information concerning rejected rehire offers to state unemployment insurance offices will be provided on SBA’s website.

To utilize these exceptions, employers must maintain documentation regarding any employee job offers and refusals, firings for cause, voluntary resignations, and written requests by any employee for reductions in work schedule.

  1. How do salary and wage reductions affect the forgiveness calculation?

The Forgiveness Application provides detailed guidance on how to calculate the loan forgiveness amount where the salary or hourly wages of certain employees have been reduced during the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period (as compared to the January 1, 2020, to March 31, 2020, period). If the employer timely restored or restores salary/hourly wage levels, the employer may be eligible for elimination of the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction amount.

The Interim Final Rules clarifies that to ensure borrowers are not doubly penalized, the salary/wage reduction applies only to the portion of the decline in employee salary and wages that is not attributable to the FTE reduction. Thus, if a terminated employee is excluded from the numerator of the FTE reduction fraction, the reduction in the employee’s salary or wages is not also deducted from the forgiveness amount.

  1. What about amounts paid to general partners and members of an LLC?

The Forgiveness Application also clarifies whether and to what extent amounts paid to partners and LLC members count as potentially forgiven payroll costs. Line 9 of Schedule A includes in the calculation of payroll costs the “[t]otal amount paid to owner-employees/self-employed individual/general partners.” The instructions to Schedule A provide that Line 9 includes “any amounts paid to owners (owner-employees, a self-employed individual, or general partners) … capped at $15,385 (the eight-week equivalent of $100,000 per year) for each individual or the eight-week equivalent of their applicable compensation in 2019, whichever is lower.”

Cal/OSHA Expands Employer Injury and Illness Prevention Program Requirements

May 27 2020 – COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Workplace Safety – Matthew J. Roberts, Esq.

CalOsha

Cal/OSHA has provided guidance on COVID-19-related employee training including cough and sneeze etiquette.

The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly known as Cal/OSHA, continues to modify rules and guidance for businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. General industry and several industry-specific rules and guidelines have been modified. Recently, Cal/OSHA modified its rules and guidance on all employers’ obligation to establish and implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).

Under California law, employers must establish, implement and maintain an IIPP to protect employees from hazardous workplace conditions. The IIPP must be in writing, accessible to employees and contain several provisions including:

  • Procedures for creating safe and healthful work practices;
  • Procedures for identifying, evaluating and investigating workplace hazards, injuries and illnesses;
  • Systems for communicating hazards to employees; and
  • Employee training whenever the employer learns of a new or unrecognized hazard.

When COVID-19 infections started appearing, employers were required to determine if COVID-19 infection was a workplace hazard. Now that COVID-19 is a pandemic with widespread community exposure, employers must update their IIPPs with measures to control infection in the workplace.

Cal/OSHA instructs employers to follow applicable and relevant recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cal/OSHA references two CDC publications for employers to use when establishing infection prevention measures: Interim Guidance for Business and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): How to Protect Yourself & Others.

In addition, Cal/OSHA has provided guidance on COVID-19-related employee training which includes the following components:

  • Training provided in a language readily understood by all employees.
  • General description of COVID-19, symptoms, when to seek medical attention, how to prevent its spread and the employer’s procedures for preventing its spread at the workplace.
  • How an infected person can spread COVID-19 to others even if they are not sick.
  • How to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by using cloth face covers, including:
    • CDC guidelines that everyone should use cloth face covers when around other persons.
    • How cloth face covers can help protect persons around the user when combined with physical distancing and frequent hand-washing.
    • Information that cloth face covers are not protective equipment and don’t protect the person wearing a cloth face cover from COVID-19.
    • Instructions on washing and sanitizing hands before and after using face coverings, which should be washed after each shift.
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, after interacting with other persons and after contacting shared surfaces or objects.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding sharing personal items with coworkers (i.e., dishes, cups, utensils, towels).
  • Providing tissues, no-touch disposal trash cans and hand sanitizer for use by employees.
  • Safely using cleaners and disinfectants, which includes:
    • The hazards of the cleaners and disinfectants used at the worksite.
    • Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) (such as gloves).
    • Ensuring cleaners and disinfectants are used in a manner that does not endanger employees.

Employers may access the full general industry guidance on the Cal/OSHA website. Several additional guidelines for specific industries, such as agriculture, childcare and construction, can be viewed here. Employers who need to update their written IIPP should consult with legal counsel to ensure that it meets with the requirements under California law.

Matthew J. Roberts, Esq., Employment Law Counsel Subject Matter Expert

California’s Resilience Roadmap and Guidance to Employers for Stage Two Reopening

18 May

By Susan E. Groff, Cepideh Roufougar, Jonathan A. Siegel, Peter M. Waneis and Cecilie E. Read May 11, 2020

Appellate CourtCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a plan to allow the limited reopening of some businesses beyond those in the category of essential critical infrastructure. This limited reopening is part of the “Resilience Roadmap” for California, the multi-phase plan to modify the statewide stay-at-home Order, originally issued on March 19, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 4, 2020, the Governor issued an executive order directing Californians to continue to obey state public health directives. It also indicated the state was moving toward Stage Two, which would allow the reopening of “lower-risk businesses and spaces.”

The State Public Health Officer was directed to establish criteria and procedures to determine whether and how local jurisdictions may implement public health measures that depart from the statewide directives. This means that some counties and localities may be permitted to reopen businesses more quickly if certain benchmarks are met.

The following must be achieved by counties in order to move beyond the initial parts of Stage Two:

  1. No more than one new COVID-19 case per 10,000 people for 14 days.
  2. No COVID-19 deaths in the county for 14 days.
  3. Testing capacity to conduct 1.5 daily tests per 1,000 residents.
  4. At least 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents.
  5. Ability to temporarily house at least 15 percent of county residents experiencing homelessness.
  6. Ability to accommodate at least a 35-percent surge in COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, in addition to usual care for non-COVID-19 patients.
  7. Skilled nursing facilities must have at least a two-week supply of personal protective equipment for workers. They also must have the ability to obtain more as supplies run low.

On May 7, the State Public Health Officer stated she would “progressively designate sectors, businesses, establishments, or activities that may reopen with certain modifications based on public health and safety needs.” She indicated she would be announcing these sectors and business on the state website roadmap site: https://covid19.ca.gov/roadmap/. In addition, she stated that to the extent such sectors are reopened, “Californians may leave their homes to work at, patronize, or otherwise engage with those businesses.”

Clothing stores, florists, bookstores, sporting goods stores, manufacturing businesses, and warehouse facilities were allowed to reopen on May 8, as the state moves into the first part of Stage Two. Retail establishments were limited to curbside pickup only.

In conjunction with allowing these reopenings, the state has issued guidance for businesses to follow if permitted to open. Before reopening, all facilities must:

  1. Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan.
  2. Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have symptoms.
  3. Implement individual control measures and screenings.
  4. Implement disinfecting protocols.
  5. Implement physical distancing guidelines.

In addition to these general mandates, the state issued industry-specific guidance and checklists. Currently, the state has issued industry-specific guidance for the following sectors:

  1. Agriculture and livestock
  2. Auto dealerships
  3. Childcare
  4. Communication infrastructure
  5. Construction
  6. Delivery services
  7. Energy and utilities
  8. Food packing
  9. Hotels and lodging
  10. Life sciences
  11. Logistics and warehousing facilities
  12. Manufacturing
  13. Mining and logging
  14. Office workspaces
  15. Ports
  16. Public transit and intercity passenger rail
  17. Real estate transaction
  18. Retail

The Resilience Roadmap provides that these guidelines are to assist with ensuring a safer environment for workers and customers. Businesses may use effective alternative or innovative methods to build upon the guidelines.

Businesses looking to reopen should review any industry-specific guidance, prepare their reopening plans, and post any applicable checklist in the workplace in order to show customers and employees the business is actively working to help reduce and prevent the risk of spread of COVID-19.

As employers in Stage Two determine how to comply with recommendations and requirements under the state guidance, business owners should also review city and county shelter-in-place orders. Many county and city orders are currently more restrictive than the state’s amended order. Following issuance of the state’s guidance, many counties reiterated the requirements under their orders. In addition, many counties and cities have their own social distancing protocols for businesses that are open. Businesses seeking to reopen should ensure compliance with both state and local requirements.

As California continues to follow its roadmap, employers should monitor guidance and best practices to ensure safety for their employees.

Cal/OSHA Updates Its COVID-19 IIPP Guidance

By: Thomas B. Song Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger LLP © 2020

Cal New Update

Yesterday, Cal/OSHA greatly expanded its IIPP guidance pertaining to the hazard of COVID-19 in the workplace.  Employers who have not reviewed and updated their IIPPs to address COVID-19 should do so now.

Prior to yesterday, Cal/OSHA’s only guidance concerning IIPPs in relation to COVID-19 consisted of a general statement/reminder that employers are required to have an IIPP to protect employees from workplace hazards and that employers should determine if COVID-19 is a hazard in their workplace.  If so, employers must implement measures to prevent or reduce infection hazards and provide training on those measures.

Yesterday, Cal/OSHA updated its guidance on COVID-19 and IIPPs.  That guidance now states that, “For most California workplaces, adopting changes to their IIPP is mandatory since COVID-19 is widespread in the community.”  (Emphasis added.)

Cal/OSHA replaced their previous general guidance (consisting of two bullet points) with an extensive list of particular “infection prevention measures” and training topics.  Cal/OSHA specifically states to “include [those] infection prevention measures in a written IIPP when applicable to the workplace.”

However, since almost every listed infection prevention measure applies to most workplaces, does that mean that employers are now required physically to write down every measure in their IIPPs?  The most likely answer is “No.”  The required minimum elements of a written IIPP are already governed under Title 8, CCR 3203(a).  Therefore, without formal or emergency rule making (and appropriate notice and comment periods for the public), Cal/OSHA cannot, sua sponte add additional written requirements to the IIPP standard.

However, just because OSHA may not be able to cite you directly for failing to include all their applicable precautions in your written IIPP, that does not mean they cannot find other ways to find your IIPP ineffective.  In other words, it is assumed that should an employer’s IIPP be under review – for a COVID-related issue or otherwise – Cal/OSHA will use their listed infection prevention measures as a benchmark to gauge the effectiveness of an IIPP as it relates to COVID-19.

Therefore, while employers may not legally be required to list every single applicable Ca/OSHA precaution directly in their written IIPPs, it makes good sense to do so, or at a minimum, to be sure that you are actually implementing these precautions in the workplace.

Limits to Conducting Background Checks on Job Applicants

May 8 2020 – HRWatchdog

Background Checks

Several disclosure requirements and procedural steps are incumbent on both employers and the investigative consumer reporting agencies.

My company uses a background check company to conduct background checks on our applicants. Recently, I received a report that included a felony conviction from 1995. I thought there was a limit on how far back we could look for criminal convictions. Can I consider this conviction in making my hiring decision?

There are both state and federal laws that restrict how a background check can be conducted, and what type of information can be provided in a background check report.

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA) both restrict what background check companies (referred to in the statutes as “investigative consumer reporting agencies”) and prospective employers can and must do with regards to information on individuals who are applying for jobs.

Disclosure Requirements

There are a number of disclosure requirements and procedural steps incumbent on both employers and the investigative consumer reporting agencies.

In addition, and most relevant to your question, the ICRAA limits the type of information the investigative consumer reporting agency can provide to the prospective employer.

With regards to records of arrest, indictment or conviction of a crime, the investigative consumer reporting agency may provide information that is no more than seven years from the date of “disposition, release, or parole” (California Civil Code Section 1786.18(a)(7)).

Timing

In your particular situation, although the conviction is from 1995, the investigative consumer reporting agency may be legally entitled to provide you the information if the applicant was released from prison within the last seven years.

You will need some additional information from the background check company to be certain that it was legally authorized to provide you with that information.

The statutes don’t specifically prohibit an employer from considering information that is beyond the limits of what an investigative consumer reporting agency is allowed to provide; however, before considering such information in making your hiring decision, we would suggest consulting your own legal counsel.

California Orders Insurers to Pay Back Premiums Due to Virus

20 Apr

 

Ricardo

Ricardo Lara, California’s Insurance Commissioner

California insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara on Monday ordered insurers in the state to refund some March and April premium payments to policyholders for a range of personal and commercial lines due to COVID-19.

The notice ordered insurers to “make an initial premium refund for the months of March and April” to affected California policyholders as quickly as practicable and no later than within 120 days.

Lines where refunds are required include, commercial and personal auto, workers compensation, commercial multiple peril, commercial liability, medical malpractice and “any other line of coverage where the measures of risk have become substantially overstated as a result of the pandemic,” the notice said.

Insurers can offer premium credits, premium reductions, return of premiums of other “appropriate premiums adjustments” and must report their actions with 60 days, the notice said.

The department will send out a subsequent bulletin to insurers and provide appropriate instructions if the COVID-19 pandemic continues beyond May, the notice said.

The order follows announcements by various auto personal lines insurers and some small business insurers in various states that they would offer premium refunds or discounts to reflect decreases in miles driven and other risk-related changes stemming from the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Chubb Ltd. on Monday announced that small business policyholders whose policies renew between April 1 and August 1, 2020, will receive an automatic 25% reduction in the sales and payroll exposures used to calculate their premium as well as a 15% reduction in premiums for their commercial auto insurance.

In addition, Chubb will purchase $1 million in gift cards from small business clients, which will be donated to healthcare workers and other first responders on the front lines of the pandemic in their communities.

In addition, Selective Insurance Group Inc. on Monday announced it would give commercial and personal auto policyholders a 15% premium credit for April and May related to COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.

Workers Exposed to COVID-19

By Kurt Rose and Karen Charlson on  April 9, 2020, Littler law firm.

In yet another significant move, on April 8, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published additional guidance for employers regarding safety practices for “critical infrastructure workers” who may have been exposed to a person with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Since the onset of COVID-19, many employers are requiring employees who have been exposed, or potentially exposed, to infected persons to remain away from work for 14 days – the CDC’s stated incubation period.  As a result, many employers, including those that perform essential functions, were hamstrung operationally because portions of their workforce remained self-quarantined for two weeks.

New Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Employers

The new guidelines help ease the strain on the country’s critical sectors.  The purpose of the guidance is to ensure the continued operation of critical infrastructure.  The CDC is now advising that critical infrastructure employees who have been exposed to the virus can continue to work, provided they remain asymptomatic.  In order to permit exposed employees to continue to work, the CDC advises that employers should, among other things, adhere to the following practices prior to and during work:

  1. measuring temperature before employees enter the facility;
  2. regular monitoring of asymptomatic employees;
  3. having affected employees wearing a mask/face covering in the workplace for 14 days after exposure (employer-issued or employee-supplied);
  4. having employees maintain social distancing (six feet apart), as work duties permit; and
  5. routinely disinfecting work spaces.

Who is Critical?

As noted above, the new guidance does not apply to all employers that continue to operate through the pandemic.  The CDC has highlighted that the new guidance applies to the following critical infrastructure sector personnel:

  • Federal, state, and local law enforcement;
  • 911 call center employees;
  • Fusion center employees;
  • Hazardous material responders from government and the private sector;
  • Janitorial and other custodial staff; and
  • Workers – including contracted vendors – in food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, information technology, transportation, energy and government facilities.

This list is not exhaustive, however, and leaves much open for interpretation.  In an effort to provide further clarity, the CDC directs employers to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) website for further guidance on sectors and employees that are considered critical.

Interplay with Shelter in Place Orders

In connection with their shelter in place orders, many states and localities have adopted the CISA’s guidelines.  Therefore, employers should pay close attention to whether the type of work they perform falls within a CISA critical infrastructure sector and, similarly, whether the employees who continue to report to work are, in fact, essential. Employers subject to a stay at home order that does not rely on the CISA framework should be careful to evaluate the nature of their operations under the particular order at issue.

Next Steps

The CDC’s new guidelines can help critical infrastructure employers as they continue to navigate the most appropriate ways to maintain operations during this difficult time.  So long as critical employers implement the above-noted recommendations, essential workers who have been exposed, or potentially exposed, may continue working if those workers are not sick.  At the end of the day, however, critical infrastructure employers may choose to follow more conservative protocols with their workforce.

Flash Report: Cal/OSHA Receiving Thousands of COVID Complaints

Published on: April 17, 2020 Cal/OSHA Reporter

Cal Osha

Cal/OSHA’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has received up to 1,500 complaints about employers alleged failing to provide proper protection during the COVID-19 crisis, according to DOSH Deputy Chief Eric Berg.

The revelation came as stakeholders and Standards Board members pressed Berg, the deputy chief for health, for clarification on Division guidance on personal protective equipment during the virus crisis. The exchange came at the April 16 board meeting, held by teleconference.

Jessica Early, a representative of the National Union of Healthcare Workers expressed concern that DOSH’s interim guidance on PPE for healthcare workers “have undercut respiratory protections.” Taylor Jackson, a lobbyist for the California Nurses Association, asserted that hospitals are “locking up and rationing” respirator supplies.

In response, Berg said the interim guidelines, which align with federal Centers for Disease Control and supercede previous Cal/OSHA guidance on respirators, were only published “because of the extreme shortage that we’re experiencing,” Berg said. “Droplet protections [in healthcare settings] are not sufficient to protect employees,” he added. “Respirators have to be used unless it’s not possible to get fitted respirators due to supply constraints.”

Asked by board occupational safety representative Laura Stock whether DOSH is investigating allegations of respirator stockpiling, Berg affirmed that the Division is doing so. “When we get a complaint or otherwise investigate employers for failing to provide respirators as required,” he said. “We would investigate how many respirators they have coming in, their burn rate and what their stock is.”

Berg’s comment about the crush of complaints came in response to a question from Barbara Bergel, the board’s occupational health representative. She wanted to know whether DOSH has investigated complaints related to non-healthcare workers in hospital settings performing deep cleaning. “We’ve had over a thousand complaints, up to 1,500,” Berg replied. “I’m not aware of all of them.”

To put that number in perspective, for the first quarter of 2019, DOSH investigated 488 complaints.

Berg also emphasized that employers covered by the aerosol transmissible diseases standard (General Industry Safety Orders §5199), such as healthcare, have responsibilities under the standard even if they face a respirator shortage. “If they’re low on respirators and they have to switch to non-respirator protections in that circumstance, that is a change in their ATD program. They are required to communicate these issues with employees and their bargaining representatives” and train them, he explained.

Essential and still open industries are required to identify and address COVID hazards through their Injury and Illness Prevention Program. “Given the widespread nature of COVID, it is a hazard in all workplaces that have some sort of contact with people,” he said. “Once they identify that hazard, that requires them to take appropriate action.” That means following Cal/OSHA guidelines “unless there’s something specific that makes it not possible.”

The Division has developed COVID guidelines for general industry, as well as for several specific industries.

Cal/OSHA Interim COVID-19 Guidelines

11 Mar
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California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) notified California employers of its new interim guidelines for general industry employers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Cal/OSHA also issued updated guidance for healthcare facilities about the efficient use of respirator supplies.

The Standard Requires Employers to Protect Workers at Healthcare Facilities & Other Services Operations:
  • Hospitals and long-term health care facilities, as well as, in clinics, home health care, hospices, medical offices, medical outreach services, medical transport and emergency medical services, outpatient medical facilities, and skilled nursing facilities.
  • Diagnostic laboratories, police services, and public health services that are reasonably anticipated to expose employees to an aerosol transmissible disease.
  • Correctional facilities, drug treatment programs, and homeless shelters.
  • Any other locations when Cal/OSHA informs employers in writing that they must comply with the ATD Standard.
In depth details define Specific Requirements Listed Below. To Read The Complete Report … Click Here.
  • Healthcare Facilities Take These Steps
  • Healthcare Worker Protections
  • Written Workplace Exposure/Protection Control Plan & Procedure
  • Training Required
  • Additional Employer Requirements
  CalWorkSafety & HR, LLC  Helps companies prepare for Cal/OSHA
compliance, training, inspections, citations or written plans.  
Contact us today and speak to one of our Consultants:
Call: 949-533-3742

Completing/Filing Revised Cal-OSHA Form 300A Now Mandatory

30 Jan

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As Of 2-1-20 … Cal/OSHA’s Form 300A Is Now Mandatory to California Employers

California employers should know that Cal/OSHA’s injury/illness reporting requirements have been revised starting on 2-1-20. Employers who meet the requirements for keeping of work-related injuries and illnesses records must post the OSHA Form 300A from February 1 to April 30 yearly. All medical treatment beyond first aid must be reported to OSHA. Employers must also document significant work-related injuries and illnesses diagnosed by a licensed healthcare professional.

March 2, 2020 is the deadline for filing OSHA Form 300A 2019 reports of injury and illness data. If you employ more than ten workers considered to be partially exempt, it also involves an OSHA Form 300A. Now required on all submissions is your Employer Identification Numbers (EIN). These reports include:

Work-related death and every work-related injury or
illness that involves loss of consciousness, restricted work
activity, or job transfer, days away from work, or
medical treatment beyond first aid.

 

New Cal/OSHA Rule Changes That Are Effective Now:
  • OSHA Form 300 requires the supervisor to document the injured employee’s name, job title, and case number.
  • Supervisors must describe the case by listing the date of injury or illness, location of occurrence, and the specific area of the body affected. The log  also asks for the outcome, including days away from work, job transfer, or other recordable cases.
  • Beyond each individual case, employers must also prepare a summary of all work-related injuries and illnesses (reported on Form 300A).
    • In this section, the number of cases, days away from work, and injury or illness are combined into a grand total.
    • The employer then lists their information and provides a signature for OSHA’s internal use.
  • Not to be overlooked, the last page of the report is OSHA’s Form 301 (employer’s form that describes the workplace injury or illness). Each injury or illness that is recorded on OSHA Form 300 or its equivalent must also be recorded on a Form 301 or its equivalent (*a form is considered equivalent if it contains all the information asked on Form 301).
  • Note that larger firms are also required to file online with U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Our CalWorkSafety team helps companies with preparation and filing of your OSHA Form 300 and 300A reports and gives you confidence that they are on time and accurate. If you have questions about this important new regulation contact CalWorkSafety 949-533-3742 and speak with one of our consultants about your questions or concerns.
CalWorkSafety Helps companies prepare for Cal/OSHA
compliance, training, inspections, citations or written plans.
Contact us today and speak to one of our Consultants:
Call: 949-533-3742 or email:

State Changes Serious-Injury Report Criteria, Moves to Eliminate Email Requests

17 Dec
Report of Work Injuiry

New laws that take effect at the start of 2020 will change how employers report accidents to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and revise the criteria for determining which serious job site occupational injuries, illnesses and deaths employers need to disclose.

Lawmakers during the 2019 session enacted AB 1804, which changes the reporting requirement and directs employers to immediately disclose incidents via telephone or through a new online portal created by Cal/OSHA. Employers may continue to send incident reports by email until the agency launches the new site.

The Legislature also enacted AB 1805, amending definitions that legislators argue will provide clarity to employers when reporting workplace injuries.

One amendment is the definition of “serious injury or illness.” The law removed the 24-hour minimum time requirement for qualifying hospitalizations in which an employee suffers the loss of a body part or suffers permanent disfigurement. This excludes stays for medical observation or diagnostic testing.

The law replaces “loss of any member of the body” with “amputation,” and includes the loss of an eye as a qualifying injury. AB 1805 also revises the definition of “serious exposure” by including that the exposure of an employee should create a “realistic possibility” — instead of the current “substantial probability” — of death or serious bodily harm.

The law eliminates the exclusion of an injury or illness caused by certain violations of the Penal Code, and narrows the inclusion of accidents on a public street or highway found to have occurred only in a construction zone.

CalWorkSafety, LLC can provide training for your supervisors and employees on this topic or other safety compliance issues.

Important Steps Employers Must Take To Ensure Air Quality Standards Are Met

30 Oct
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With wildfire season upon our state, employers may not be aware that they are responsible to monitor the air quality of their employees and protect their health and safety. It’s important because smoke from wildfires contains chemicals, gases and fine particles that can harm health. The greatest hazard comes from breathing fine particles in the air (called PM2.5), which reduce lung function, worsen asthma and other existing heart/lung conditions, and causes coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Employers Responsibilities
  • Monitor Outdoor Air at your work place location (use websites)
  • If AQI PM2.5 reaches unhealthy levels (151 or more), employers must take the following steps to protect employees:
    • Communication – Inform employees of the AQI for PM2.5 and the protective measures available to them.
    •  Training – Train all employees on the information contained in Section 5141.1 Appendix B of CA Code of Regulations, Title 8.
    • Modifications – Implement modifications to the workplace, if feasible, to reduce exposure. Examples include providing enclosed structures or vehicles for employees to work in, where the air is filtered.
    • Changes – Implement practicable changes to work procedures or schedules. Examples include changing the location where employees work or reducing the amount of time they work outdoors or exposed to unfiltered outdoor air.
    • Respiratory Protection – Provide proper respiratory protection equipment, such as disposable respirators, for voluntary use.  To filter out fine particles, respirators must be labeled N-95, N-99, N-100, R-95, P-95, P-99, or P-100, and must be labeled as approved by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
    • If the AQI for PM2.5 exceeds 500, respirator use is required.
    • Employers must ensure employees uses respirators and implement a respiratory protection program as required in California’s respiratory standard. For information or help on developing a respiratory protection program, see Cal/OSHA’s  Respiratory Protection Fact Sheet.
    • If respirators cannot be provided in a timely manner, employers should relocate employees to areas of safe AQI or send them home until work air quality conditions are safe to return to work.
Why It Is Important: 
The main harmful pollutant for people who are not close to the fire is “particulate matter,” the tiny particles suspended in the air.  Particulate matter can irritate the lungs and cause persistent coughing, phlegm, wheezing, or difficulty breathing. Particulate matter can also cause more serious problems, such as reduced lung function, bronchitis, worsening of asthma, heart failure, and early death.  Finally, an Air Quality
Index (AQI) over 100 is unhealthy for sensitive people and an AQI over 150 is unhealthy for everyone.
Protective Methods:

When AQI is 151 or greater, employers should follow the following protective methods:

  1. Locate work in enclosed structures or vehicles where the air is filtered.
  2. Change procedures such as moving workers to a place with a lower current AQI for PM2.5.
  3. Reduce work time in areas with unfiltered air.
  4. Increase rest time and frequency, and providing a rest area with filtered air.
  5. Reduce the physical intensity of the work to help lower the breathing and heart rates
Respirators:

Respirators can be an effective way to protect employee health by reducing exposure to wildfire smoke, when they are properly selected and worn:
  • When the current AQI for PM2.5 is 151 or greater, employers shall provide their workers with proper respirators for voluntary use. If the current AQI is greater than 500, respirator use is required.
  • Surgical masks or items worn over the nose and mouth such as scarves, T-shirts, and bandannas will not provide protection against wildfire smoke.
Employer Information Resources:
Employee Information Resources:
Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at (844-LABOR-DIR) or (844-522-6734).
The California Workers’ Information line at (866-924-9757) provides recorded information in English and Spanish on a variety of work-related topics.
CalWorkSafety Helps companies prepare for Cal/OSHA
compliance, training, inspections, citations or written plans.
Contact us today and speak to one of our Consultants:
Call: 949-533-3742 or email:

Heat Illness Prevention

25 Apr

April-Consultant-Masthead-Humberto

When it comes to preventing heat illness, employers with outdoor workers should not wait until it gets hot to review their procedures and ensure their training is effective. Workers should know the signs and symptoms of heat illness and what to do in case someone gets sick. Doing so helps prevent serious and fatal heat illnesses while working outdoors.

Heat illness is a serious hazard for people who work outdoors. Cal/OSHA’s investigates heat-related incidents and complaints of hazards at outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, landscaping and construction. These investigations ensure compliance with the Heat Illness Prevention Standard and the Injury and Illness Prevention Standard, which require employers to take the following basic precautions:

  1. Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention – before they start work.
  2. Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, or four 8-ounce glasses of water per hour and encourage them to do so.
  3. Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. Shade structures must be in place upon request or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Closely observe all employees during a heat wave and any employee newly assigned to a high heat area. Lighter work, frequent breaks or shorter hours help employees who have not been working in high temperatures adapt to the new conditions.
  5. Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA heat illness prevention standard, including plans on how to handle medical emergencies and steps to take if someone shows signs or symptoms of heat illness. This includes how to direct emergency responders to the work site if an employee experiences heat illness.

CalWorkSafety conducts training and assists with writing the required Heat Illness Prevention Plan, required at each out door work site to ensure compliance with the heat illness prevention standard and that outdoor workers have access to the water, rest and shade that keeps them healthy.

The most frequent heat-related violation that Cal/OSHA cites during enforcement inspections is failure to have an effective written heat illness prevention plan specific to the worksite. Serious heat-related violations are often related to inadequate access to water and shade, and to a lack of supervisor and employee training. Failure to have a copy of the Heat Illness Prevention Plan at the work site prompts citation.

Additional information about heat illness prevention are posted on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention page. Cal/OSHA also has extensive multilingual materials for employers, workers and trainers on its Water. Rest. Shade. public awareness campaign website.

Cal/OSHA Multi-Lingual Employee/Trainer Materials: Water/Rest Shade
Learn More About: Heat Illness
Helpful Guide: Quick Card