New California OSHA Standard Applicable to Storage Operators Effective November 30, 2020
The California Occupational Safety & Health Board approved a new standard to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces in the state, including at self storage facilities. The standard will become effective upon formal approval by the Office of Administrative Law, which is anticipated to occur soon, and the standard is expected to become operative on November 30, 2020. Below is a summary of most of the core provisions of the standard.
First, employers must implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program that must contain several required provisions. As one example, employers must develop a system for communicating information about COVID-19 such as asking employees to report to the employer, without fear of reprisal, COVID-19 symptoms, possible COVID-19 exposures, and possible COVID-19 hazards at the workplace.
Further, storage operators and owners must develop and implement a process for screening employees for and responding to employees with COVID-19 symptoms. Employers must have an effective procedure to investigate COVID-19 cases in the workplace, and if a case is confirmed, take several additional steps. Operators must implement effective procedures for correcting unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
Additionally, there are several training requirements that employers must implement, including, but not limited to, training regarding the employer’s COVID-19 policies and procedures to protect employees from COVID-19 hazards.
There are also social distancing and mask mandates. Generally, all employees must be separated from other persons by at least six feet, with limited exceptions, and employers must provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by employees.
Storage operators must implement other engineering and administrative controls. For example, employers must identify and regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, equipment, tools, handrails, handles, controls, and bathroom surfaces. The standard also outlines several recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
In the event of a positive COVID-19 case, employees may not return to work until at least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4; COVID-19 symptoms have improved; and at least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared.
The standard also includes a provision that covers employer-provided housing, which some storage owners may provide to live-on-site managers. However, most provisions of that section are not applicable if the occupants maintained a household together before living in the employer-providing housing, such as family members in an apartment at a self storage facility.
Finally, there are additional requirements that attach if a workplace experiences three or more cases within a 14-day period as well as further requirements for “major” outbreaks which are 20 or more cases within a 30-day period.
All California operators should review the entire standard as soon as possible given that the requirements become effective on November 30, 2020. The SSA recommends that you consult with your legal counsel as well as occupational safety / industrial hygiene experts to ensure compliance with all of the required measures.
If you have any questions, please contact:
Joe Doherty or Daniel Bryant