By Sean Hogle, Partner, Rooney Nimmo San Francisco
As in many other jurisdictions in the US and abroad, all employers in California, regardless of size or industry, are required by law to have an illness and injury prevention program (IIPP). This requirement is often overlooked but frequently enforced.
In the words of one practitioner, “Cal/OSHA issues more citations under the IIPP standard than any other standard – thousands each year – many of them for a complete failure to have an IIPP. During a Cal/OSHA inspection, one of the first documents asked for is the IIPP, and failure to have one can carry a penalty of up to $25,000.”
Many other states mandate such programs as well. They require employers to proactively detect and remediate workplace hazards, reduce their frequency, and mitigate their harm.
COVID-19 is one such hazard – one that has brought nearly the entire world to its knees. Large parts of the globe are now subject to shelter-in-place orders. Companies everywhere are advising their employees to work from home, with only essential staff allowed to attend their workplaces. IIPP program documents should be updated to deal with the virus, without delay.
We recommend that you review the plans and strategies you have in place to protect your workers from exposure to the coronavirus, verify that they comply with IIPP rules, and ensure that they incorporate the legal requirements and recommended practices set out by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and that they otherwise comply with related state laws. A recent article by Bloomberg Law, titled OSHA Virus Rules for Employers are About More Than Just Masks, highlights the top OSHA standards that apply to the pandemic.
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