Proposed rules would require CA employers to provide free COVID-19 testing after an outbreak

ByMatt Boone KGO logo
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Proposal would require CA companies provide free COVID-19 tests
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A new set of COVID-19 workplace regulations in California will be decided on Thursday by Cal/OSHA.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- A new set of COVID-19 workplace regulations in California will be decided on Thursday as the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health board (Cal/OSHA) votes on a sweeping proposal.

It's known as the Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations. If passed, it would create clear legal standards that employers across the state must follow.

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For example, the proposal would require employers provide COVID-19 prevention training. It would also strengthen laws that require employers to identify and notify all workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19 within one business day.

The new rules would also force companies to provide testing free of charge to all employees who may have been exposed if a positive case is identified in the workplace.

"This is a standard. It would be a legally enforceable standard, not just a guideline," said Maggie Robbins, the Occupation and Environmental Specialist at Workspace.

She says, her organization has been pushing for such regulations to protect all workers who must interact with other people.

The California Attorney General's Office has been in support of the regulations as well, pointing to the fact that the state has created a patchwork of guidelines and best practices, but not yet made a full framework of enforceable rules.

In an email to the Cal/OSHA board, Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote, "We have found that employers have not consistently implemented these best practices and have not uniformly abided by local public health orders. A clear statewide emergency standard will require all parties to be informed about and abide by standards informed by the latest scientific knowledge."

The regulations would also mandate that employers implement safety measures in employee-provided housing and transportation, a stipulation aimed specifically at migrant farmworkers.

If the regulations are passed on Thursday, it could go into effect as early as November 30.

"I hope they don't send it back and say revise it because then it would take months," said Robbins. "We need something now."

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