As many California companies work diligently to comply with the recently issued COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) continues to provide additional COVID-19 compliance information for California employers on the state website.
On January 26, 2021, Cal/OSHA further updated the previously posted frequently asked questions (FAQs) with additional testing information and guidance. Two additional FAQs were added to the January 8, 2021, FAQs with very specific guidance on COVID-19 testing resources, which are reproduced below.
Q: Where can I find COVID-19 testing for my employees?”
A: Some of the simplest ways to get testing include the following:
- At the California Department of Public Health or the National Association of County and City Health Officials website, click on the county or city health department in the area where you would like employees to be tested. Many local health departments maintain websites with up-to-date information on testing locations. Click on the appropriate health department’s website and search for testing sites. Follow instructions to identify testing locations and schedule a test. All counties offer free testing for individuals at designated testing sites.
- Note that in most cases, prior to scheduling a testing appointment, the employee who will be getting tested is required to answer questions in an online form about whether or not they have symptoms, whether they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, etc. To complete the online scheduling process, the employee also must provide their consent to receive the test.
- An employer can partner with a medical provider to establish a testing program. Some providers offer on-site testing of employees.
However testing is arranged, employers must ensure employees do not incur any costs for COVID-19 testing required by title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, sections 3205 through 3205.4.
Q: Are there resources available for employers who need to test a large number of employees on a regular basis?
A: The State of California Valencia Branch Laboratory (VBL) opened on October 30, 2020 to increase the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity and reduce test turnaround time.
- Large employers can partner with VBL to set up on-site testing of employees. Getting the testing site set up requires approximately 2-3 weeks to complete. Visit the Valencia Branch Laboratory website for more information. To set up a local testing site, get started by filling out the Valencia Lab Interest Form.
Cal/OSHA now offers online training for California employers with short courses on required COVID-19 Prevention Plan elements. The agency provides short video presentations that are available in English with Spanish versions coming soon. With many California employers working diligently to implement the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, these materials are handy, free, and include modules such as “Cleaning and Disinfection,” “Training Employees,” “Hand Hygiene,” “Sponsored Leave Benefits,” and “COVID-19 Symptoms and How the Disease Spreads.”
In addition to the above offerings, Cal/OSHA is also hosting free webinars for California healthcare employers addressing personal protective equipment issues such as “Use of Elastomeric Respirators in Health Care Settings.” Cal/OSHA stated that webinars providing COVID-19 best practices will be offered throughout February and March 2021.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinars, podcasts, California Developments, and Workplace Safety and Health blogs.