Back-to-Work Safety: Employees, Cal/OSHA, and Federal OSHA

Workers at work

In an already complex landscape of federal, state and local workplace safety guidance, recently updated federal guidance easing mask and physical distancing requirements for vaccinated persons has raised a number of questions for credit unions about workplace safety obligations.

The California Credit Union League alerted credit unions in California this week of the following:

  • Cal/OSHA coverage — First and foremost, all credit unions operating in California are responsible for complying with both the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Under OSHA, states may adopt plans as long as they are approved by OSHA and contain standards that are at least as stringent as the federal standards. Cal/OSHA administers California’s OSHA-approved state plan that has adopted standards consistent with, and in some instances more stringent than, the federal standards. They also cover some areas not addressed by OSHA, such as the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards. Credit unions in California must follow the more stringent Cal/OSHA standards.
  • Cal/OSHA jurisdiction — Cal/OSHA has enforcement jurisdiction over most workplaces located in California, including credit union offices within the state. While Cal/OSHA does not generally inspect home workspaces for remote employees, employers should still establish and communicate safety standards as part of their telecommuting policy and track any work-related injuries.
  • Local county and city jurisdiction — Counties and cities are also free to adopt additional or stricter standards for businesses operating within their jurisdiction, and California credit unions must adhere to those more stringent local mandates.
  • CDC guidance update and Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently relaxed its guidance on face coverings and physical distancing for fully vaccinated persons “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” In other words, it does not negate the obligation to comply with more stringent state and local guidance still in effect, and employers and businesses remain free to impose stricter standards. California credit unions are reminded that Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards remain in place, and workplace mask and physical distancing mandates remain unchanged for the time being.

Credit unions are encouraged to work with legal counsel to address any questions they may have about compliance obligations.

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