California adopts stricter workplace safety rules aimed at limiting spread of COVID-19

Employers will be required to write a COVID-19 prevention program if the state approves the emergency regulations.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- UPDATE: California officials on Thursday approved new regulations requiring employers to implement safety measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, the latest state to adopt stricter rules.

The state's Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board heard testimony on an emergency temporary standard that requires businesses to educate employees on ways to prevent infection, provide free personal protective equipment and offer free COVID-19 testing to all employees if three or more employees are infected with the coronavirus within a 14-day period, among other measures.

California joins Oregon, Michigan and Virginia in implementing similar standards. Virginia became the first state in the country to approve temporary new workplace safety rules after lawmakers passed the measures in July, citing inaction by federal officials.

The Associate Press contributed to this report.

Our original story follows below.

Heather's Quality Upholstering, like many small businesses, saw a slowdown when the pandemic hit.

But owner Heather Chrisman quickly pivoted, seeing an opportunity to keep her employees on the payroll and provide an increasingly in-demand product: masks.

"It's triple-layered, it's not the N95 but it is hospital-grade fabric, and they are probably the safest masks I've seen," says Chrisman.

When it comes to the threat of COVID-19, Chrisman cares deeply for her customers and four employees. Two work in the store, two more work in a warehouse.

Everyone wears a mask and keeps their space, cleaning is thorough and frequent, and when possible, the door is propped open for better ventilation.

Chrisman says she's been keeping a close eye on her workers, watching for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

On Thursday, the occupational safety and health standards board (Cal/OSHA) discussed sweeping emergency regulations related to COVID-19 for all California workers, which would include the requirement that all employers write and implement a COVID prevention program.

Some of the many rules that must be included in the plan are: educating workers about the spread of the coronavirus, offering testing to exposed employees and informing them about COVID-related benefits, making sure workers wear masks indoors at all times, and protecting employees' earnings and other rights if they are out sick with the virus.

She just hopes the state provides some direction on drafting the prevention program so she and her workers can get back to doing what they do best - restoring prized possessions and producing high quality masks.

If the emergency regulation is adopted, it will be submitted to the state Office of Administrative Law (OAL).

If OAL approves it, it will be filed with the secretary of state and be effective for 180 days.
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