Subscribe to our email list

Cal/OSHA Standards Board Unanimously Approves Petition for Emergency Standard

Dear Allies, 

Yesterday the Cal/OSHA Standards Board voted unanimously to develop stronger rules to protect California workers from COVID-19. This means the agency will move forward to adopt an emergency standard as soon as November, an unprecedented action that meets the urgency of the moment.

Once a COVID-specific emergency standard is in place, employers will have more specific direction on steps they must take to protect workers from the virus. And Cal/OSHA will have a more powerful tool to enforce safety rules and hold employers accountable. 
Background: In May, Worksafe and the Labor & Employment Committee of the National Lawyers Guild submitted Petition 583 to urge the Standards Board to develop an emergency temporary standard (ETS) tailored to COVID-19 hazards. Here's an FAQ about the ETS campaign.

Workers and advocates throughout the state made this happen, despite strong pushback from employer associations and industry representatives. A broad coalition of 40+ organizations supported the campaign — including labor unions, worker centers, public health organizations, environmental groups, and more. Check out the full list on this page.

Thanks to this coalition, dozens of workers and advocates attended the meeting to testify in support of the petition. The Board heard from car wash workers, agricultural workers, fast food workers, and an Amazon delivery driver who said, “I feel like a soldier being sent into battle with only cargo shorts and a tee shirt for protection.” 

Advocates from organizations like SoCal COSH, Warehouse Worker Resource Center, and Líderes Campesinas contributed other powerful reports from the ground. Representatives from the California Federation of Teachers, SEIU California, the Teamsters, and other unions also urged immediate action.

What's next? Cal/OSHA and the Board staff are directed to develop a draft ETS for the Standards Board to consider at their November 19th meeting. There will be no formal advisory committee process prior to adoption, since time is of the essence. But there would be a participatory process afterwards to review and potentially refine the standard at set intervals.

And looking down the road to when the pandemic subsides, the Standards Board has asked Cal/OSHA to convene an advisory committee to consider a permanent regulation to protect workers in general industry from airborne infectious disease, including novel pathogens like the one we're dealing with now.

Worksafe will be there – in solidarity with you – every step along the way.

Joan, Jora, Karín, Maggie, Mara, Stephen, and Thais

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn
Donate to Worksafe