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Guide to Safety/Health Requirements During COVID-19 Outbreak

13 Apr

Outbreak

Apr 7 2020 – COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Health and Safety – HRWatchdog

Cal/OSHA has compiled and posted extensive guidance recommendations and requirements from many sources to assist the employer during this time.

As an employer, where can I find safety and health information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that is affecting my ability to do business?

The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), commonly known as Cal/OSHA, has developed a website compiling relevant information explaining an employer’s methods and responsibilities for maintaining a safe and healthful workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since our introduction to COVID-19 in early January, the public has been increasingly inundated by various prognosticators as to what is happening and the best way to survive in the environment where we now find ourselves.

Fortunately, even when it appears that chaos is the norm, there are individuals and groups who are practical, logical and patient enough to research and develop interim solutions to mitigate to the best extent humanly possible with existing information the situation that is occurring.

Extensive Guidance

Cal/OSHA has compiled and posted extensive guidance recommendations and requirements from many sources to assist the employer during this time.

To access the guidance on requirements to protect workers from coronavirus, start at the Department of Industrial Relations website, and click on the bold banner declaring “Cal/OSHA Safety Guidance on Coronavirus.” This opens to a webpage containing a table of contents of websites for various areas that may or may not be applicable to your particular situation.

There are two references to “General Industry.” The first, Cal/OSHA Interim Guidelines for General Industry on 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), is the reader’s digest version. It details the employers covered and not covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard and reminds webpage visitors of other Cal/OSHA regulations — such as the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) — that apply to all employers.

The second reference is a link to download and print a PDF brochure providing some of the information covered on the webpage.

On the “Cal/OSHA Interim Guidelines” webpage is a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which offers considerably more detailed recommendations on its Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Both the Cal/OSHA and CDC interim guideline pages contain website references that should be reviewed for information that may be relevant to your industry.

Note that the interim guidelines are subject to change.

Also, the Cal/OSHA webpage includes a link to the daily update page for the California Department of Public Health.

Model Policies and Forms for the New Emergency Paid Sick and Paid FMLA Leave? Here are the Details

FMLA

By Jeff Nowak on April 9, 2020  Littler Law Firm

Under the Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA), employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide paid sick leave (EPSL) and paid FMLA leave (FMLA+) for certain reasons related to the Coronavirus pandemic. The law went into effect April 1 and its obligations continue through December 31, 2020.

Employers need policies and forms to comply with this new law.

We now have these policies and forms ready for you.

Why Do You Need a New Policy and Forms to Comply with this New Law?

This new law is fraught with compliance issues for employers.  Take, for instance, these risky scenarios for employers that do not document an employee’s leave request:

  • Your employee, Johnny, does not have symptoms of COVID-19 but insists that he needs to take off work to avoid any exposure. Is he eligible to take EPSL? If you and Johnny later dispute the reason for his need for leave, do you have a leave request form from Johnny to back up your story? Nope.
  • One of your employees, Betty, sought FMLA+ for a COVID-19 related reason, but a dispute later arises over whether you improperly denied her intermittent leave to care for her child whose school was closed. You recall that she requested continuous leave, but you have nothing in writing confirming that fact.
  • You require your employee, Gnarls, to exhaust his employer-provided PTO at the same time he is taking EPSL. After the fact, he claims that he did not give you approval to burn his accrued paid leave at the same time he was taking EPSL .  You recall him telling you to apply his accrued leave, but you have nothing in writing to confirm. Is this a violation of the law?

This hastily-drafted law is a mess, and it undoubtedly will create liability for employers that fail to document the employee’s request for EPSL or FMLA+.  Employer compliance is made even more difficult because the Department of Labor has made clear that it will not be publishing model policy language or model forms for employers to use for EPSL or FMLA+.

This creates significant compliance risks.

Employers undoubtedly want to make their employees aware not only of their leave entitlement under this new law, but also the expectations for requesting and taking EPSL or FMLA+. Additionally, it also is critical that employers obtain in writing their employees’ request for leave, including whether they are requesting intermittent leave (and why), whether they want other forms of paid leave to run instead of or concurrently with EPSL and FMLA+, among other important issues.

Wage and Hour Considerations for Remote Workers

Apr 10 2020 – COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Exempt/Nonexempt – Bianca Saad

Wage

Pet co-workers have fewer wage and hour obligations.

How do an employer’s pay obligations differ when an hourly/nonexempt employee is working remotely from home?

It’s important to keep in mind that when having a nonexempt employee work remotely, your obligations under California’s wage and hour laws remain the same, and you need to ensure you have measures in place to maintain accurate records of the employees’ hours worked.

In addition to accurately tracking all hours worked by your nonexempt remote employees, it’s critical to ensure they take required meal and rest breaks, get paid for any overtime hours and are not engaging in “off-the-clock” work (there is no such thing in California).

Establishing a remote work/telecommuting policy is a great way to communicate your expectations to your remote employees, particularly when it comes to keeping an accurate record of their hours worked, including overtime, as well as taking their appropriate meal and rest breaks.

In addition to having a telecommuting policy, you may choose to have your remote employees sign a telecommuting agreement, acknowledging their work schedule and other parameters within the telecommuting policy itself, such as whether they need approval to work overtime.

Accurate Timekeeping

Many employers already use some type of software that allows them to accurately record hours worked by an employee, and this should be no different for an employee working remotely.

By making sure your remote employees have access to your software or timekeeping system on their remote devices, you can accurately track and monitor your remote employees’ daily and weekly hours worked.

Meal and Rest Breaks

In California, nonexempt employees’ uninterrupted meal break of at least 30 minutes must begin no later than 4 hours and 59 minutes into their shift. Additionally, a nonexempt employee whose total daily work time is at least 3.5 hours must be permitted a rest break of at least 10 “net” minutes for every four hours worked, or “major fraction thereof.”

Because remote employees aren’t supervised in the same way that an on-site employee is, there can be some added challenges to monitoring breaks; however, having a clearly written meal and rest break policy can help combat those challenges.

In addition to your standard meal and rest break policy, your telecommuting policy can reiterate that employees are expected to take their uninterrupted, off-duty meal and rest breaks.

Overtime

In addition to ensuring that your remote employees take their meal and rest breaks, you also need to track and pay for any overtime hours worked.

As a reminder, California law requires all overtime hours to be paid (1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked beyond 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a work week), even if that time was not approved.

Having a clearly written telecommuting policy and agreement in place can help you to manage your remote employees’ work schedules and expectations regarding overtime.

Business Expenses Reimbursements

Employers must reimburse employees (whether nonexempt or exempt) for all “necessary expenditures or losses incurred” in the performance of their job duties (Labor Code Section 2802). This could include an employee’s personal cell phone, computer equipment and other services and/or supplies required for a remote employee to work.

When looking at whether an employee is entitled to reimbursement, the question will be whether it is “necessarily incurred.”

A clearly written telecommuting policy can help establish guidelines surrounding which expenses are reimbursable, as well as provide a method for employees to submit for reimbursement. Another approach might be to provide all necessary equipment for a remote worker, such as computers/laptops, printers and a phone — which could eliminate or reduce an employee’s need to use personal devices.

Bianca Saad, Employment Law Subject Matter Expert, CalChamber

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

March is Ladder Safety Month – Every Step Matters!

28 Feb
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March Is Ladder Safety Month
Every Step Matters!  
Are You Putting the Right Foot Forward?
Every year over 100 people die in ladder-related accidents, and thousands suffer disabling injuries. Raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities view OSHA Information on Ladder Safety.
National Ladder Safety Month is the only movement dedicated exclusively to the promotion of ladder safety – whether agriculture, general industry, construction, or mobile ladder stands … at home or at work.
National Safety Goals:
  • Provide safety training on use of ladders – emphasizing the three-point
    contact rule (one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot on the
    ladder at all times.
  • Lower the ladder-related safety citations on OSHA’s Top 10 “Citations List”
  • Decrease number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities
  • Inspect ladders regularly and properly dispose of old, damaged or obsolete ladders
Every Step Matters:
Ladder hazards can be eliminated or substantially reduced by following good safety practices. Do you have the training material you need to comply with OSHA and ensure the best and safest workplace?

Contact CalWorkSafety, LLC for help in OSHA compliance, safety standards and defense of citations.

CalWorkSafetyHelps 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

Coronavirus: Employers – Don’t Panic, But Be Prepared

6 Feb

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Employers Important Update
Employers Must Make Decisions on
Current Information About This Virus
The rapidly developing outbreak of novel Corona virus (nCoV-2019) in central China is sparking fears of a widespread health threat, a pandemic even, but right now there are as many questions as there are answers. Some cities around the world have declared a crisis and closed schools and non-essential businesses.
Preventive Steps
There is no specific or preventative treatment for nCoV-2019. Infected persons “should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms,” CDC says. Authorities are urging individuals to practice these preventive steps, which is wise considering we’re still in the flu season:
  • Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or at least use a hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Avoid “presenteeism” – going to work when you are sick. If you are ill, stay home;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it away; and
  • Frequently clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.
  • Surgical masks can help prevent infecting others if you are ill but will not prevent you from inhaling germs.

Click Here to learn about the latest information and what you can do for your employees:

If you have questions about this important news contact CalWorkSafety

at: 949-533-3742 and speak with one of our consultants.
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:

CALWORKSAFETY.COM ANNOUNCES COMPANY ACQUISITION OF ATENTO CONSULTING SERVICES

12 Jul

Atento Masthead Heading-7-1-19

IRVINE, CA — JULY 1, 2019 – Irvine, CA — Don Dressler, a national leader in human resources and risk management solutions, today announced the acquisition of Long Beach, CA-based ATENTO Consulting Services, Inc. by Irvine, CA-based CALWORKSAFETY, effective July 1, 2019.

Two ATENTO founding principles – Ron Paine, MS, ARM, and Laura Pensamiento – are seasoned experts in safety training for the construction industry. Combining the experiences with those of CalWorkSafety broadens the scope of Cal/OSHA compliance, citations defense services along with a wide variety of HR compliance solutions, specifically in Spanish and English: Safety, Risk Control & Human Resources including:

Safety Training Classes include: Hazard Communication (HazCom) Training, First Aid/CPR/AED training, Forklift Safety Training, Sexual Harassment Training (CA Compliant) and Defensive Driving Training.
Construction Specific Classes include: FED OSHA/CAL OSHA Construction 10-Hour Course & Certification, Excavation (including trenching & shoring), Fall Protection, Scaffold training, Qualify Flagger and safety traffic safety training, Construction Equipment Safety Certification, Rigging Safety and Confined Space training.

“Ron and Laura recognized employers with Spanish speaking workforces require hands on consideration developing safety programs that effectively address, overcome, and reconcile cultural difference,” said CalWorkSafety founder Don Dressler. “With 50+ years combined experience, they know what works and have collectively helped employers drastically reduce their losses through aggressive and persistent techniques that address the true causes of lost revenue,” Dressler said.

“We’ve focused on traditional approaches to establishing safety programs, such as engineering safety committees, safety incentive, and safety inspection programs for our clients. These programs aggressively motivate and educate managers on accident prevention,” Ron Paine said.

About Cal Work Safety 

Don Dressler is an experienced labor and employment law attorney and former workers’ compensation insurance company president. Nationally recognized expert on safety and workers’ comp programs and legal issues affecting business owners, Dressler is the architect of www.CalWorkSafety.com. For more than 25 years, CalWorkSafety has offered labor law/risk management consulting on: HR, Safety & Cal/OSHA, Labor Law/Discrimination/EOP and Workers’ Comp. CalWorkSafety’s customized Safety package designs significantly reduce worker’s compensation costs and protect employers from non-compliance issues affording effective employee training solutions to southern California companies. A virtual HR Department program offers effective hands-on management, discrimination and harassment claims. For more information on Cal/OSHA compliance related to illness and injury prevention, sexual harassment, discrimination contact Don Dressler at (949) 533-3742, or visit our website.

Is Your Company Prepared for These 10 Questions in 2019?

9 Oct

BottomLine Oct Update

  1. How will your firm incorporate the new or changed laws into policies and procedures?
  2. What adjustments have you made regarding 1099 changes (rules for independent contractors)?
  3. Do you have an arbitration agreement to avoid court lawsuits involving employees?
  4. Does your company have a safety plan?
  5. Is your sexual harassment policy training completed yet?
  6. How have you prepared to objectively investigate a harassment claim?
  7. What’s your plan to train each of your employees on harassment and workplace bullying prevention? How to deal with violence in the workplace?
  8. How are you calculating pay, bonuses, missed breaks, missed meals, and overtime? (are you using “rounding” for recording time?)
  9. What expectations have been set for the most critical jobs in your organization?
  10. Is your New Hire and Termination process current?
If your answers to these questions is marginal, what’s your plan for 2019?
CalWorkSafety is a leader in labor law, risk management and consultant on: Human Resources,Safety & Cal/OSHA, Labor Law/Discrimination/EOP and Workers’ Compensation. Through the design of customized HR packages, Cal Work Safety significantly reduces worker’s compensation costs and protects employers from non-compliance issues … while providing effective employee training solutions to southern California companies.
The Bottom Line:
Our Virtual HR Department offers effective hands-on Management and Staff training dealing with Mandated Regulations.  By simplifying the
employee relations and compliance elements we help clients reduce
workers’ compensation premiums, prevent discrimination and harassment claims, and settle/avoid employee claims. To learn more about preparing for 2019 HR compliance, call us at 949-533-3742 or email:

Visit our website:

or Call:  949-533-3742

Celebrate National Safety Month This June

5 Jun
Join the National Safety Council (NSC) and thousands of organizations across the country as we work to raise awareness of what it takes to Keep Each Other Safe. Observed annually in June, National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities.

Week 1: Stand Up to Falls

Home is the place where we feel most safe, so it may come as a surprise to hear that falls in the home are one of the leading causes of injury-related death in the U.S., second only to poisoning. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, including concussions.

Eliminating tripping hazards
Prevent falls at home—and at work—by removing the sources of tripping:
  • Secure electrical and phone cords away from walking areas, such as hallways or in front of your desk
  • Use non-skid rugs and be sure to tape them down to prevent rolling
  • Keep drawers and cabinets closed when you’re not using them
  • Wear proper footwear, paying special attention to outdoor conditions
  • Clean up any spills immediately and include warning signage if necessary
  • Refrain from walking while distracted – stay focused on your surroundings
  • Ensure there is adequate lighting in your workspace
  • Don’t carry more than you can handle—large loads can obstruct your vision and affect your balance
Preventing falls in your bathroom
Falls can happen anywhere, but in your home, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous places. According to the CDC, about 235,000 people over age 15 visit the emergency room each year due to a bathroom related-injury. Older adults are especially susceptible. According to the National Institute on Aging, 80 percent of senior falls happen in the bathroom due to slippery floors and surfaces.
Keep loved ones of every age safe:
  • Place a non-slip mat both inside and outside of the tub
  • Plug in nightlights in and around the bathroom for increased visibility
  • Clean up any condensation or puddles on the  oor
  • Place non-slip decals on the bottom of your shower or tub
  • Keep shampoo, soap and other bath products higher up to avoid bending
  • Install grab bars by the toilet and in or near the shower and tub to assist older adults
  • Make sure the bathroom door swings outward in case of a fall
Make your home safer by starting at the source. Remove tripping hazards around your home and ensure your bathroom is slip-free to eliminate the risk of falling.

Week 2: Recharge to Be in Charge (Focusing on Fatigue)

Like many Americans, you might feel that you’re not getting enough sleep. The CDC reports that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. It is also estimated that 37 percent of the U.S. workforce is sleep deprived. We need proper sleep to recharge our stamina, face the day and avoid injuries at home and at work.

Getting good sleep
To be alert, well-rested and at your best, follow these tips:
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep every day
  • Create and follow a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day—even on weekends.
  • Eliminate unnecessary light
  • Keep your bedroom temperate – neither hot nor cold
  • Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable and support restful sleep
  • Avoid eating right before bed
  • Remember that bedtime is for sleeping, not reading or watching TV
  • Avoid using electronic devices before bed which can inhibit sleep
Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
We all have busy lives and sleep is often the first thing many of us cut back on to accommodate our schedules. In the long run, this can be dangerous. Sleep deprivation has been shown to raise the risks of depression, obesity and heart disease, and has an adverse effect on reproductive health. Lack of sleep can also lead you to experience short bursts of sleep lasting anywhere from a fraction of a second or up to 30 seconds, known as microsleep. Individuals who experience microsleep lose awareness and consciousness during the episode, which can be dangerous especially on the road.
  • Plan to take regular rest breaks and rotate drivers when travelling long distances
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that may make you drowsy while driving
  • If you feel drowsy, pull over when it is safe to do so
  • To combat drowsiness, have a cup of coffee or caffeinated drink and stretch your legs by taking a short walk
  • If you need more rest, take a quick nap if it is safe to do so
  • If you are too tired to continue driving even a er a break, don’t drive. Stay at a hotel or call someone—a loved one, friend or even a cab or ride-sharing service—to get you to your destination safely
Don’t get sidelined by fatigue. Get plenty of sleep to recharge and stay healthy and avoid dangerous situations like driving when drowsy.

Week 3: Prepare for Active Shooters

Preparing for the worst can be difficult. Nobody wants to think about being involved in a situation with an active shooter – they can be unpredictable and unfold quickly. Because an active shooter behaves erratically, they have no pattern and their victims are random—being prepared can be your best defense.

Responding to an active shooter situation
Active shooters can appear in public places such as movie theaters and shopping malls or in private workplaces. No matter where you are, remain as calm as possible and remember:
  • Be aware of any possible danger in your environment
  • Identify the two nearest exits
  • If you can flee, do so immediately—leave belongings behind
  • If you cannot flee, hide in an area where the shooter can’t see you
  • If you are behind a door, try to lock or block entry to it
  • Silence electronic devices
  • As a last resort, try to incapacitate the shooter. Keep moving and be distracting. In close range situations,  fighting increases your chance of survival.
  • Call 911 as soon as you can do so safely
Wait for law enforcement to arrive
Law enforcement will usually be required to end the situation. Comply with law enforcement and allow them to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
There are several ways you can assist:
  • To the best of your ability, be prepared to provide 911 and law enforcement with your location, the number of shooters, physical description of the shooter(s), the number and type of weapons used by the shooter(s) and the number of potential victims
  • When law enforcement arrives, remain calm and follow all instructions
  • Don’t scream or yell
  • Keep your hands raised, visible and free of any objects
  • Evacuate the area quickly—do not stop law enforcement to ask questions or for help
Facing an active shooter can be unimaginable, but being prepared might save your life. Remember to stay alert and as calm as possible. Try to run first, hide if you cannot flee safely and fight only when you have no other choice.

Week 4: Don’t Just Sit There (Focusing on Ergonomics)

If you have back pain, you’re not alone. About 80% of the U.S. population will experience back pain issues at some point in their lives, and 31 million will experience low-back pain at any given time. Most of these cases are not caused by serious underlying conditions, but from actions like improper lifting technique.

Lift safely
Prevent strains, dislocations and muscle tears. When lifting, make sure you:
  • Stretch and warm up before you perform any lifting
  • Keep your back straight and bend your knees – remember to never twist or bend your back
  • Are on solid ground with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Keep the box or object close to your body
  • Lift with your legs, not your back
  • Limit the amount of weight you carry – separate boxes or make two trips instead of carrying more than you can handle
  • Ask for help to carry heavy, bulky or large loads
  • Keep pathways clear of tripping hazards
Ergonomics for the home office worker
Telecommuting is an increasingly popular option to help employees maintain a better work-life balance. Convenience and flexibility are great, but don’t leave ergonomics at the office.
Make sure:
  • Chairs have proper lumbar and arm support, and can be adjusted for height
  • Feet are flat on the ground or a footrest
  • The viewing distance from your eyes to the monitor is at least 18 inches
  • Your keyboard and mouse are at approximately elbow height
  • Lighting is sufficient enough that you don’t have to strain, but not too bright where glare is an issue
  • To take short breaks. Look away from your screen every 15 minutes, take microbreaks in between bursts of heavy typing and don’t forget to take a rest break every 30 or 60 minutes. Get out of your chair, stretch and move around.
By making ergonomics part of your routine at work and at home, you can keep your body free of strain and pain.

The mission of the National Safety Council is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Join us as we help #KeepEachOtherSafe this June and throughout the year. For any questions regarding workplace safety, contact us at Don Dressler Consulting and CalWorkSafety.com today!