COVID-19, Enforcement and Inspection

Cal/OSHA Has Cited More Companies for COVID-19 Violations

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) cited additional employers for failing to protect employees from COVID-19 exposures, including a Los Angeles garment manufacturing company facing $102,550 in proposed penalties. California is one of a handful of states that established an emergency temporary standard (ETS) last year for workplace COVID-19 exposures.

California and COVID-19

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Cal/OSHA has cited well over 150 employers for safety and health violations during the pandemic.

Cal/OSHA initiated an inspection at a Los Angeles Apparel, Inc., factory following reports of an outbreak in which six employees died from COVID-19 complications. The agency determined that Los Angeles Apparel intentionally did not report the COVID-19 fatalities.

Los Angeles Apparel was cited for six serious, one willful-regulatory, three regulatory, and seven general violations. One of the serious violations was a failure to evaluate COVID-19 hazards, such as the lack of physical distancing or barriers to separate employees operating sewing machines. Another serious violation was the lack of employee training on preventing COVID-19 infection in the workplace.

California has a permanent Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) in addition to its emergency COVD-19 standard. The regulation requires employers to establish, implement, and maintain a written IIPP. The agency cited several electrical equipment violations at the Los Angeles Apparel factory.

Cal/OSHA also opened an inspection at the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) in Vacaville after the employer reported the serious illness of an employee hospitalized for COVID-19 complications and another employee tested positive for the virus. The agency cited CALPIA for three serious violations after finding deficiencies in its Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) and respiratory protection programs that exposed employees to COVID-19 infection.

California has a permanent ATD standard for infectious disease exposures. The standard applies to correctional and healthcare facilities, as well as certain public services like fire, police, and emergency medical services.

Cal/OSHA also cited Integrated Pain Management Medical Group, a San Leandro-based medical practice, for two COVID-19-related serious violations. The agency opened an accident inspection following a report of an employee who was hospitalized for COVID-19 complications. The employer was cited after Cal/OSHA found that it failed to implement an effective employee COVID-19 screening procedure and that it had deficiencies in its respiratory protection program.

Cal/OSHA cited the Roseville-based framing contractor Erickson Framing CA, LLC, following two COVID-19 complaint-based inspections at worksites in Vacaville and Fairfield. At the Vacaville site, a Cal/OSHA inspector found that the employer was not enforcing the use of face coverings or physical distancing between employees. In a subsequent inspection at the Fairfield worksite a month later, the Cal/OSHA inspector again found the same hazards: a lack of physical distancing and failure to require the use of face coverings. Cal/OSHA cited the employer for a serious violation in each instance for the employer’s failure to effectively establish, implement, and maintain procedures to correct unhealthy conditions related to COVID-19 that affected its employees, including its failure to enforce face covering use and physical distancing for COVID-19 prevention.

Oregon and Michigan also have emergency COVID-19 standards. Virginia now has a permanent COVID-19 standard. There is no federal COVID-19 or infectious disease standard. On January 21, President Joe Biden ordered the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to consider establishing an ETS for workplace COVID-19 protections by March 15.