Effective January 1, 2021, California has imposed a new requirement on employers regarding COVID-19 cases in the workplace. This new law (AB-685) adds new employer notification requirements and gives Cal-OSHA expansive authority to close workplaces based on the threat of COVID-19. They have started issuing citations ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 for serious Covid-19-related violations. With the new statute, Cal/OSHA does not have to notify employers fifteen days before issuing the citation.
The new law includes three key provisions:
- Requirement for Employee notification of COVID-19 in the workplace: Under AB 685, the requirement to notify employees who may have been exposed to an infected employee is now mandatory under new Labor Code section 6409.6. Section 6409.6(a) requires an employer who receives notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 to notify any potentially exposed employees within one business day. Employers are required under the new law to keep records of the written notices provided to employees for at least three years.
- Notification of the local public health agency of outbreaks within 48 hours: If an outbreak occurs in its workplace, an employer must notify the local public health authorities of the names and worksite of “qualifying individuals” within 48 hours. An “outbreak” is currently defined as: “at least three probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period in people who are linked in the setting, are from different households, and are not identified as close contacts of each other in any other case investigation.”
- New expansive authority for Cal-OSHA to close workplaces that constitute an “imminent hazard to employees”: AB 685 amends Labor Code section 6325 to permit Cal-OSHA to close workplaces that “constitute an imminent hazard to employees” due to COVID-19. Some of the notice provisions that Cal-OSHA usually must comply with before making this determination have been removed so employers must be prepared to act immediately if they receive notice.
To meet these new requirements, public and private employers will need to rely on purpose-built technology to automates as much of the employee health status insights, contact tracing, and notification workflows as possible. That is exactly what ReturnSafe does!
We provide a comprehensive set of services to enable you to create a healthier workplace. We have one data set supporting all the services to enable swift and effective action.
This table outlines how our solution simplifies compliance with AB 685.
|ReturnSafe Capability||How it works||Value to your business|
|Daily health screening||Mobile app or web app with a daily screening survey based upon CDC guidelines with the ability to customize screening questions for a location or industry-specific need. The survey screens for symptoms, exposure, travel, testing and vaccine status and provides an employee with a “green” building access pass or a “red” stay at home recommendation.||Ensures only employees who meet the “come to work” criteria are at the workplace. HR gets a centralized dashboard of everyone’s status.|
|Testing Status Notification||If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, they can use the app to notify HR to trigger the contact tracing process.||No delay in positive case notification|
|Vaccine Management||Track the vaccination status of employees||Know the immunity status of employees|
|Contact Logging||During the workday, employee contacts can be logged using both an in-app logbook and automated tracking via Bluetooth wearables. A pre-populated list of contacts is created on an ongoing basis and is immediately available if someone tests positive or has been exposed to COVID-19.||Employee exposure notifications can begin in minutes of the positive case notification.|
|Case Manager||A centralized case manager dashboard with isolation and quarantine workflows and notification management.||No delays or dropped balls and data is retained in one place for compliance reporting requirements.|
What happens when you don’t comply?
Cal/OSHA can issue an Order Prohibiting Use (OPU) for the closure of an entire worksite or some portion of it that exposes employees and subcontractors to an imminent hazard related to Covid-19.
In addition, they have started issuing citations ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 for serious Covid-19-related violations. With the new statute, Cal/OSHA does not have to notify employers fifteen days before issuing the citation according to the California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 336(c)(1).