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We Need an Emergency Cal/OSHA Standard for COVID-19

Last week Worksafe and the National Lawyers Guild's Labor & Employment Committee filed a petition for two standards with the Cal/OSHA Standards Board. We strongly believe that California should adopt a temporary emergency standard to protect workers from infectious diseases like COVID-19. And a permanent standard that protects all workers from infectious diseases should follow.
Our goal with this petition is to secure real protections for all California workers as businesses reopen amidst the continued spread of COVID-19. We need to protect employees who may be exposed at work as well as the lives of their families and people in their communities. Without specific occupational health and safety measures to protect all of us who are returning to work, Californians will get sick and die unnecessarily.
While Cal/OSHA and the State of California have published guidance documents that outline employer requirements for protecting workers from coronavirus exposure (see below for details), guidance can only do so much. A standard would give Cal/OSHA a more powerful tool to enforce the rules and hold employers accountable.
Bottom line: Cal/OSHA urgently needs tools, staffing, and resources to engage in effective inspections and enforcement. We need a strong agency to ensure that all California workers can work safely and free from the hazards introduced or exacerbated by the pandemic. If employers are flouting regulations and endangering workers, or are unable to operate their business consistent with public health requirements, they must be confronted and penalized.
Worksafe is dedicated to this vision of a strong Cal/OSHA, one that is able to provide answers and protections for all of us rightly concerned about going to work during a pandemic. California’s workers need enforceable rules to keep employers accountable and keep workplaces safe.