May 18, 2020

California Sets Standards for Worker and Workplace Safety after COVID-19 Order

Holland & Knight West Coast Real Estate and Land Use Blog
Letitia D. Moore
Breaking Ground: West Coast Real Estate and Land Use Blog

California set a new standard for creating a safer workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. As California begins a staggered reopening, Gov. Gavin Newsom's Resilience Roadmap sets prerequisites for the Stage 2 reopening and provides guidelines and checklists for the following business sectors:


• agriculture and livestock

• food packing

• outdoor museums and galleries

• auto dealerships and rentals

• hotels and lodging

• ports

• childcare

• life sciences

• public transit

• communications infrastructure

• limited Services ††

• intercity passenger rail service

• construction

• manufacturing

• real estate transaction

• delivery services

• mining and logging

• retail

• energy and utilities

• office workspaces

• warehousing and logistics facilities

†† For example, laundromats, dry cleaners, other laundry services, auto repair shops, car washes, landscapers, pet grooming and dog walking services

Consistent with the May 7, 2020, California Department of Public Health Order, the state is designating sectors, businesses, establishments or activities that "may reopen with certain modifications, based on public health and safety needs... ." The "modifications" are set out in the individual sector guidelines. Although specifically directed at reopening, the state guidelines are identified as "guidelines to create a safer environment for workers," and suggest at evolving standards for COVID-19 workplace safety generally. The individual sector guidelines and associated checklists address:

  • worksite plans
  • employee training
  • individual control measures and screening
  • cleaning and disinfecting protocols
  • physical distancing guidelines

Individual control measures and screening include temperature and/or symptom screening. Additionally, before reopening, facilities must perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan, as well as train employees and establish individual screening, disinfecting and physical distancing protocols.

The guidelines offer only a suggestion of future workplace standards because they state that they do not repeal, replace or revoke existing statutory, regulatory or collectively bargained employee rights, county health orders, or existing safety and health-related regulations. Furthermore, businesses are invited to "use effective alternative or innovative methods to build upon the guidelines." Nevertheless, parameters for what constitutes a safe work environment in a COVID-19 world have clearly been set.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving and that the subject matter discussed in these publications may change on a daily basis. Please contact your responsible Holland & Knight lawyer or the author of this alert for timely advice.

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