New COVID OSHA Regulations

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Nov. 20, 2020

After a lengthy hearing yesterday, the Cal OSHA Standards Board unanimously voted (6-0) to adopt the emergency regulation on COVID-19 workplace prevention standards. Thank you to all who answered our ongoing survey and responded with comments.

CMTA’s Nicole Rice testified on the following topics concerning the impact to manufacturers:

  • Timing of regulation did not afford adequate stakeholder engagement, which would have identified and possibly corrected inconsistencies and implementation challenges for manufacturers.
  • Emergency rule was unnecessary given the myriad of existing laws, including SB 1159 (COVID-19 workers comp presumption), AB 685 (COVID-19 exposure notice requirement) and the Cal OSHA sectorial and general industry COVID-19 guidance that the Division has been enforcing for months.
  • Many of the engineering and administrative control mandates are infeasible in a manufacturing/industrial setting with controlled environments.
  • Manufacturers need flexibility in implementation to balance workplace safety with operational integrity.
  • The overly broad testing mandate is excessive and will be extremely costly to manufacturers. Additionally, the outbreak definitions do not align with existing statutory requirements and will result in confusion and compliance challenges. For example, which rule are we to follow – state, local, federal, Cal OSHA??

The regulation now heads to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for approval. They have 10 calendar days to act. While OAL could find that the rule exceeds Cal OSHA’s authority and reject it (sending it back to the Division for additional editing), that outcome is highly unlikely as their involvement is usually pro forma. If approved, regulation would go into effect on November 29, 2020 and remain in effect for 180 days with the possibility of two 90-day extensions.

At the Board’s request, we anticipate that staff will convene an advisory committee on the regulation as early as next month (December) to address many of the concerns raised by CMTA and other industry representatives during the meeting.

CMTA will continue to engage in and monitor this process and update you with more information on future actions to mitigate the impacts on California manufacturers.

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