Basic Covid-19 Protection for Workers in California

Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard [CA General Safety Order 5199  [Air Transmitted Diseases.]

CA General Safety Order 5199  Air transmitted diseases.

To protect workers and prevent exposure to the virus, employers must develop and maintain the required programs and plans for their facility or operation. CA General Safety Order 5199 [ Air transmitted diseases.] Cal/OSHA recommends specific interim guidance, educational materials, model programs and plans to be reviewed with an employer’s existing procedures to ensure that workers are protected.

Healthcare Worker Protections When Treating Covid-19

Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard (section 5199) requires protection for employees working at health care facilities, and other services and operations, including:

  • Hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, medical offices, outpatient medical facilities, home health care, long-term health care facilities, hospices, medical outreach services, medical transport and emergency medical services
  • Certain laboratories, public health services and police services that are reasonably anticipated to expose employees to an aerosol transmissible disease.
  • Correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and drug treatment programs
  • Any other locations when Cal/OSHA informs employers in writing that they must comply with the ATD Standard.

What If My Employer Doesn’t Provide the Training, Safety Gear, Masks, Gloves, Cleaning Materials or Cleaning Protocols to comply with Section 5199?

Under the general safety order, employers are mandated by law to provide a safe workplace.  As of now, the risk factors of Covid-19 indicate a high risk of infection and complications.  Every employer is required to take precautionary measures to reduce the risk.  An employee informed of his or her rights, and who speaks up for compliance with Cal OSHA is protected by statute from retaliation, and if fired, demoted, or harassed because of demanding his or her rights is entitled to file a common law suit for economic and emotional injuries.

Employers generally want to provide safety for their employees.  Your employer simply may be slow to respond to the ongoing crisis.  Provide your employer with these Cal OSHA safety guidelines, and request compliance.  But if necessary, you are not required to expose yourself unnecessarily to a high risk of infection given the potential for serious injury or death.  If possible, negotiate a short term leave of absence pending measures by the employer to comply with Cal OSHA, including consideration for remote conferencing and working from home if practical.