Economic Recovery Coalition Letter

CAL SMACNA has signed onto a letter the California Chamber of Commerce has written to the Governor and Legislature, calling on them to alleviate burdens on employers and provide additional, immediate, financial relief. CLICK HERE to view the letter. 

AB 685 (Reyes) Creates New Reporting Requirements for Employers Related to COVID-19 Exposures as of January 1, 2021

AB 685 (Reyes) became law on January 1, 2021 with the intent to better protect workers and reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout California. As discussed in CAL SMACNA’s COVID-19 workshop last month, this new law places important reporting requirements on employers and provides Cal/OSHA with unprecedented authority to enforce all provisions. 

This new law:

  • Requires employers to notify employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and to report workplace outbreaks to the local health department. 
  • Requires the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to publicly report information on workplace outbreaks. 
  • Authorizes Cal/OSHA to enforce COVID-19 hazards as an imminent hazard to provide immediate protection for workers; including shutting down a worksite and issuing “serious violation” citations without 15-day notice for non-compliance. 

CAL SMACNA’s Safety Consultant Steve Bowers provided much of this information at our workshop on December 9, 2020 related to the Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulations on COVID-19. This e-mail is to serve as a reminder of these reporting obligations and how important they are to now be followed by all construction employers. 

Employer Reporting Requirements

If an employer or representative of the employer receives a notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 at the place of employment (office, shop, worksite, etc.) the employer shall take all of the following actions within one business day of the notice of potential exposure:

  1. Provide a written notice to all employees, and the employers of subcontracted employees, who were on the premises at the same “worksite” (*see definition below) as the “qualifying individual” (*see definition below) within the infectious period that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. This notice shall be provided in a manner the employer normally uses to communicate employment-related information. Written notice may include, but is not limited to, personal service, email, or text message if it can reasonably be anticipated to be received by the employee within one business day of sending and shall be in both English and the language understood by the majority of the employees. (SEE SAMPLE NOTIFICATION TO POTENTIALLY EXPOSED EMPLOYEES) and (SEE SAMPLE NOTIFICATION TO POTENTIALLY EXPOSED SUBCONTRACTORS) 
  2. Provide a written notice to the union — The notice shall contain the same information as would be required in an incident report in a Cal/OSHA Form 300 injury and illness log unless the information is inapplicable or unknown to the employer. Personal identifiable information and/or name of the COVID-19 infected worker is NOT to be shared in this notice. (SEE SAMPLE NOTIFICATION TO UNION)
  3. Notice of COVID-19 Related Benefits  Provide information to all employees who may have been exposed and the union representative, if any, with information regarding COVID-19 related benefits to which the employee may be entitled under applicable federal, state, or local laws, including, but not limited to, workers’ compensations and options for exposed employees, including COVID-19 related leave, company sick leave, state-mandated leave, supplemental sick leave, or negotiated leave provisions, as well as anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections of the employee. 
  4. Notice of disinfection and safety plan — Notify all employees, and the employers of subcontracted employees and the exclusive representative, if any, on the disinfection and safety plan that the employer plans to implement and complete per the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control. 

***IMPORTANT*** Employers also have a 48-hour reporting requirement to the local health department in the jurisdiction where the worksite is located if a “COVID-19 outbreak” occurs (3 or more COVID-19 cases among workers at the same worksite within a 14-day period). The report to the local health department must include the following:

  • Information about the worksite — name of company/institution, business address, and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry code. 
  • Names and occupations of workers with COVID-19. 
  • Additional information requested by the local health department as part of their investigation. 

Important Definitions

“Qualifying individual” — means any person who has any of the following:

(A) A laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the State Department of Public Health. 
(B) A positive COVID-19 diagnosis from a licensed health care provider. 
(C) A COVID-19 related order to isolate provided by a public health official. 
(D) Died due to COVID-19, in the determination of a county public health department or per inclusion in the COVID-19 statistics of a county. 

“Worksite” — means the building, store, facility, agricultural field, or other location where a worker worked during the infectious period. It does not apply to buildings, floor, or other locations of the employer that a qualified individual did not enter. In a multi-worksite environment, the employer need only notify employees who were at the same worksite as the qualified individual. 

Cal/OSHA Enforcement Under AB 685

“Serious Violation” Citations — Prior to AB 685, when Cal/OSHA planned to issue citations for a serious violation, it would first provide a form to the employer with at east 15 days of notice prior to issuing a citation with a serious violation. From January 1, 2021 until January 1, 2023, Cal/OSHA can issue citations for serious violations related to COVID-19 without providing the 15 day notice. 

“Order Prohibiting Use” (OPU) From January 1, 2021 until January 1, 2023, Cal/OSHA can issue an OPU and shut down an entire worksite or specific worksite area that exposes employees to an imminent hazard related to COVID-19 infection. Cal/OSHA can exercise its authority at any place of employment where risk of exposure to COVID-19 constitutes an imminent hazard, and would remove employees from the risk of harm until the employer can effectively address the hazard. 

Sample Letters

As referenced above, CAL SMACNA is providing industry sourced sample notifications for your use for impacted employees, subcontractors, and the union. These can be found here:

Notification to Potentially Exposed Employees 

Notification to Potentially Exposed Subcontractor 

Notification to Union 


Additional information and FAQs are being provided by the California Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA. Links to these are as follows:

California Department of Health FAQ