COVID-19 may be gone, but new regulations are here.
Over the past several years, Cal/OSHA has issued several different emergency operational requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the state prepares to draw down its pandemic response and activate its “SMARTER” plan, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board is finalizing a semi-permanent COVID-19 regulation, which will take effect on January 1, 2023 and end on January 1, 2025.
These guidelines take on a form similar to the emergency standards issued over the past few years. For example, the new regulations will still require employers to investigate COVID-19 cases in the workplace, provide free testing to exposed employees, and maximize airflow within the workplace.
However, after months of intense advocacy efforts, there are also some major changes. For example, the new regulations do not include a mandate for employers to provide exclusion pay, eliminate employer obligations to provide COVID-19 testing at no cost during company time to employees who did not have a close contact within the workplace, and permits employers to use Injury Illness Prevention Programs to address COVID-19 in the workplace.
While CHLA has consistently advocated in accordance with the idea that COVID-19 safety requirements are already covered by businesses’ Injury and Illness Prevention Plans, the new operational requirements represent a large step towards normalizing and simplifying business operations.
Additionally, since the new regulations are set to be passed under the normal notice and comment procedure, employers will not be forced to learn and re-learn, the new requirements (as we saw during the height of the pandemic). Instead, the new regulations will remain largely unchanged for the next two years.
While not an ideal set of operational requirement, the new Cal/OSHA Standards Board Regulations are a step in the right direction. As we start the new year, we urge hoteliers to review the latest regulations from Cal/OSHA and guidance published by CHLA.