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Preparing for COVID-19 Compliance Inspections: The Basics

by Jennifer Shaw and Melissa Whitehead | | Apr 14, 2021

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office recently cited a southern California gymnastics club for $ 1.3 million for various wage and hour violations. The Labor Commissioner discovered the violations during a COVID-19 compliance inspection. In addition, OSHA recently announced its National Emphasis Program (NEP) and Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19, focusing its resources on COVID-19 inspections. Cal/OSHA provides monthly reports on COVID-19 inspections and weekly lists of citations. As businesses welcome employees back to the worksite, basic preparation for potential inspections is time well-spent.

Here are some pointers to prepare for a potential COVID-19 compliance inspection:

1. Have all your documents in order! OSHA will try to minimize in-person meetings, in part by encouraging employers to provide documents and other data electronically. In California, this means you must have a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan. (Read more information about this requirement here.) Among other things, the Prevention Plan must include a workplace hazard assessment, personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols, and identification of measures taken to enforce physical distancing and face covering requirements.

2. Regularly audit your COVID-19 Prevention Plan and related policies to ensure they are effective at each worksite. For example, Cal/OSHA recently cited a framing contractor because its on-site foreman was not enforcing the use of face coverings or physical distancing between employees. It is not enough to have compliant policies – they must be properly implemented and maintained.

3. Maintain all OSHA-required records, including (but not limited to) employee training records (including COVID-19 prevention training, mandated in California) and medical records of worker exposure incidents. Read here, for more information on Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards’ recordkeeping requirements.

4. Monitor changes and updates to local ordinances, public health orders, and other regulations and guidance related to your industry. Recommendations and requirements related to COVID-19 prevention measures will likely continue to adapt to the increasing number of individuals vaccinated in California and employers are wise to frequently check for updates with the local health department, California Department of Public Health, Cal/OSHA, and the CDC.

As a final note, employers who were previously audited, inspected or cited by OSHA or Cal/OSHA should be vigilant and prepared for follow-up inspections. Learn a lesson from the framing contractor mentioned above – Cal/OSHA inspected a different worksite one month after the initial inspection and again cited the company for failing to enforce face covering and physical distancing requirements at that worksite.

For more information about whether and how to include vaccinations in your COVID-19 protocols, please join us for our “COVID-19 Vaccinations and Accommodations: Everything You Need to Know” webinar on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 from 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM. For more information and to register, click here.

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