CAL/OSHA is fining businesses at an alarming rate. Are you covid compliant?
Total Time: 3 minutes
Every day businesses are getting hit with violations and fines from CAL/OSHA and the Dept. of Industrial Relations. There is a long list of ever-changing rules and regulations that businesses are supposed to be following and a team of people ready to issue citations, fines and cease and desist orders to those who are not complying. Staying compliant, especially for small businesses, is not easy. Most times it’s not that businesses are trying to evade the rules, but rather they don’t even know the rules. With fines ranging from $450 to $108,450, it’s probably best for businesses to learn the rules (and learn them quickly). We’ve all heard by now the basics: wash your hands, social distance, wear a mask, but what about the other more obscure (and costly) ones. Do you know how long you have to alert any employee if they’ve been potentially exposed to COVID? What about when you have to report a case to OSHA? Read more about the top 3 mistakes business are making when it comes to covid compliance.
1. Not reporting serious cases to OSHA and SB1159
OSHA requires you to report all work-related covid cases, but how do you know if it’s work-related? SB1159, passed in Sept 2020 and effective now, makes it presumed that a covid case in CA is a workplace case unless the employer can prove otherwise. This means having documentation the shows your business followed the required rules and you did your best to prevent infection at work. For those of us in CA, if an employee (who is coming into work) gets covid and then ends up in the hospital, you need to report it. If you can’t prove that the employee didn’t get covid from work, then there’s a worker’s comp claim that goes along with the illness. Keeping track of any covid case of an employee is critical, not just from a prevention perspective but it directly leads to our 2nd mistake businesses are making.
2. Alerting any employee exposed to a covid case
In Sept 2020, CA also passed AB685, which requires businesses to alert any employee exposed to covid at work (via another employee, visitor or guest) within 24 hours of learning about the issue. This means employers need to have detailed information of when employees came into work, who they interacted with and who could’ve potentially exposed them. This is especially difficult for larger businesses since it’s employees sometimes work from home and sometimes come into the office, without a defined schedule or shift. It’s difficult to know who has covid if you are not screening your employees for symptoms. Getting tighter at the front door is the best way to stop infections from spreading (and leads to the 3rd reason businesses are getting fined).
3. Not stopping employees or visitors with symptoms from entering
A hospital in Santa Rosa, CA was recently fined over $55k for not implementing screening protocols for employees or patients entering the facility for COVID-19 symptoms. Many businesses are telling employees who have symptoms to not come in, but it’s critical to track the responses in a secure manner so you can quickly react in case of an issue. Using a spreadsheet and email is one way of doing it, but employers must be careful not to get hit with HIPAA violations for not securing employee data. Even better are digital cloud-based solutions, like PassPoint, that ask employees, visitors, and guests about symptoms before they enter the workplace. If symptoms are present, they are immediately told not to enter and contact HR for more information. This stops infections before they even enter your workplace, keeping you even safer (and more confident) that a covid outbreak is not work-related.
Keeping your team safe and slowing the spread of COVID is something we all need to help with. As we said above, most people are not ignoring compliance but rather don’t know the exact rules. So make sure you are doing your best to stay informed of the rules. If you have more questions about how you can help keep your business safe, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org