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Cal/OSH standards engineer recommends denial of COVID-19 petition

A staff engineer for the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board recommended Monday that the board deny a petition seeking an emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 protections for employees, although Cal/OSHA’s chief supported its passage.

The petition, filed by the National Lawyers Guild and nonprofit workers organization Worksafe, asked the board to develop an ETS that would put into place protocols for workers not covered by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s aerosol transmissible disease standard, and to develop a permanent standard to protect workers from current and future infectious disease, including novel pathogens.

The petitioners argued that California’s would “die unnecessarily” without specific occupational health and safety measures in place, and noted that the state of Virginia has enacted a COVID-19 ETS and that Oregon is currently working on emergency regulations expected to take effect this fall.

On July 30, Cal/OSHA chief Doug Parker wrote in a memo to the board that the agency “determined there is a necessity for an emergency regulation” to protect workers from COVID-19 and recommended that the board grant the petition.

Senior safety engineer David Kernazitskas said in his recommendation to the board that a new regulation “would place additional regulatory burden on California businesses that are already compliant with California’s COVID-19 requirements and guidelines” and that Cal/OSHA’s limited resources should be focused on enforcement, consultation and outreach to employers with “deficient COVID-19 protections.”

This article was first published by Business Insurance.

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