COVID-19 Client Alerts:
Employers Required to Amend IIPP Specifically to Address COVID-19
All California employers are required to have an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (“IIPP”). Your IIPP must be in writing, be accessible to employees, and contain certain specified provisions. Cal/OSHA has now issued guidance requiring employers to include COVID-19 prevention measures in their IIPPs.
All employers should take steps to amend their IIPP immediately because IIPP violations are the cause of a high percentage of Cal/OSHA citations every year.
Although the new Cal/OSHA guidance states that employers must include COVID-related provisions only if an employer determines that COVID-19 is a workplace hazard, the guidance also states that “For most California workplaces, adopting changes to their IIPP is mandatory since COVID-19 is widespread in the community.”
Not only will amending the IIPP lessen the potential for a Cal/OSHA citation, it will also help to ensure that the employer is taking steps to minimize the risk to employees, thereby reducing exposure to workers’ compensation liability and other costs should employees become ill.
The following infection prevention-measures should be included in your amended IIPP, when applicable to your workplace. This is not an exhaustive list. Additional issues must be addressed in certain industries, like retail and service. There are also training requirements that we will address in a subsequent Employer Update.
In our prior Employer Updates, we have recommended the adoption of many of the following practices. Now it is time to also commit them to writing in your IIPP.
Topic 1: When You Have Sick or Symptomatic Employees
- Send sick or symptomatic employees home, or to medical care.
- Ensure that sick or symptomatic employees do not return to work until ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared and at least three days have passed since symptoms ended.
- Provide Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, if required.
- If an employee is confirmed to have a COVID-19 infection:
- Inform other affected employees while maintaining confidentiality (see DFEH guidance);
- Close and deep clean all areas affected by the infected employee; and
- Ensure employees that return to work following an illness promptly report any recurrence of symptoms.
Topic 2: Use Social Distancing
- Have employees work from home when possible.
- Do not hold in-person meetings when video or telephone meetings can be used.
- Maintain at least six feet between people in all workplace areas, when possible.
- Prohibit or minimize use of shared items and workspaces. If these areas/items must be shared, then clean and disinfect the shared workspaces and work items before and after use.
- Limit the number of customers or clients on the premises.
- Schedule employees in shifts to minimize the number of employees on the premises.
- Advise employees to avoid non-essential travel if possible and check CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices prior to travel.
Topic 3: Proper Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Establish procedures for routine cleaning and disinfecting, especially of commonly-touched objects, such as doorknobs and faucets.
- Use disinfectants that are approved by the EPA for this purpose.
- Provide EPA-registered disposal wipes for employees to wipe down commonly used surfaces before use.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfecting product use.
- Ensure there are adequate supplies to support cleaning and disinfecting practices.
- Train employees in the safe use of cleaning and disinfecting chemicals.
Topic 4: Provide Protective Equipment and Engineering Controls
- Provide cloth masks to employees and to customers.
- Provide hand sanitizer.
- Install plexiglass screens or physical barriers.
- Provide gloves to employees who must touch items touched by the public, employees, or customers.
Cal/OSHA also recommends that employers implement the relevant recommendations from the CDC’s COVID-19 Guidance for Employers and How to Protect Yourself and Others. Additional Cal/OSHA guidance applies for employers subject to the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard.
This is a significant change that is being required of IIPPs. It is advisable to consult with legal counsel when updating an IIPP to ensure it complies with California law.
Copyright © 2020, Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP. All rights reserved. Please be assured that we make every effort to make certain that the information contained in this alert is current at the time this email was delivered. Because laws and legislation are constantly changing, please contact us if you are unsure whether this material is still current. Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended to be for general information purposes only. We assume no liability in connection with the use of the information contained in this article. Given the rapidly evolving nature of legal and governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, unfolding events likely will supersede many of the issues discussed in these updates. We encourage you to contact our lawyers directly for the most current information and counsel regarding legal and governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact us to answer any questions you may have.