BUILDING SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES

UPDATING INJURY ILLNESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS TO ACCOUNT FOR THREAT OF COVID-19

| Jun 15, 2020 | Firm News |

Existing California law requires that employers with ten or more employees establish, implement, and maintain in writing an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (“IIPP”).

IIPP programs must meet certain minimum requirements, as set forth in the applicable regulations. Among other things, an employer’s IIPP must “[i]nclude procedures for identifying and evaluating work place hazards” including “[w]henever the employer is made aware of an new or previously unrecognized hazard.”[1]

Additionally, once an employer identifies a new hazard in the workplace, it is required to timely update its IIPP to account for that hazard and train employees accordingly.[2]

Recently, Cal/OSHA has opined that “[f]or most California workplaces, adopting changes to their IIPP is mandatory since COVID-19 is widespread in the community.” In other words, Cal/OSHA takes the position that COVID-19 is  “work place hazard,” which all California employers must account for in their IIPPs.

Although different communities have had different recorded exposures to COVID-19, all California employers are wise to update their written IIPPs to account for COVID-19, conduct adequate employee trainings to advise employees of the threat and how to evade it, and otherwise effectively “establish, implement and maintain an effective” IIPP in accordance with California law. Doing so will ensure that your business avoids unnecessary civil penalties and Cal/OSHA involvement related to non-compliant IIPP programs. Additionally, maintaining and implementing and effective IIPP in accordance with California law can assist employers with mitigating potential liability for “serious and willful misconduct” in the workers’ compensation arena based on any violation of Cal/OSHA safety orders and regulations.

As businesses reopen in the new COVID-19 world, it is of paramount importance to take the time to carefully establish, implement, and maintain a legally sufficient IIPP, both in order to protect your workers for exposure to COVID-19 and in order to protect your business from unnecessary fines and civil penalties. Should your business need guidance on establishing a written IIPP or updating an existing IIPP to account for the threat of COVID-19, contact an attorney at Sagaser, Watkins & Wieland PC who can assist you with these issues.

[1]             (8 C.C.R. §3203(a)(4).)

[2]             (See id. at §3203(a)(6).)