On September 9, the Biden Administration released a number of new details for its Path out of the Pandemic that will impact U.S. Government contractors and a number of other individuals and entities. In addition to requiring most executive agency employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the Administration plans to mandate that executive agency contractors
Ireland is beginning to emerge from the shades of Covid with almost full opening of the economy now planned for October 22nd. It brings with it some significant changes to working lives, education and business and while the signals are optimistic, caution is in the air.
The Irish have followed a conservative approach to the…
On March 4, 2021, Brazil deposited with the United Nations its ratification of the Nagoya Protocol (“Protocol”) (see here the announcement of Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs). This represents Brazil’s formal commitment to be bound by the Protocol.
On August 6, 2020, the Brazilian Senate passed a Decree that ratifies the Nagoya Protocol. The Protocol complements Brazil’s existing access and benefit sharing rules relating to Brazil’s genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge (“ABS Framework”). One important effect of this ratification is that other countries parties to the Protocol will have to ensure that users of Brazilian genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge comply with the Brazilian ABS Framework. However, the inverse is also true. Brazil will need to ensure that Brazilian users of foreign genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge comply with the access and benefit sharing regime of the country of origin.
As the Brexit Deal settles down and the UK becomes used to being a Third Country in relation to the EU, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the damage that Brexit may have done to the United Kingdom. This is particularly evident in N Ireland and Scotland – both of which voted…
With the Covid news from the UK (good – vaccine rollout; and bad – high cases and deaths), the impact of the Brexit Deal has been somewhat masked. This note summarises some of the most noticeable of those impacts.
Red Tape & Border Delays
Cross-Channel trade was slower than normal in the first two weeks…
On January 4, 2021, the narrowed Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed, in a party-line vote, a set of rules governing the House for the 117th Congress. While the House, unlike the Senate, has to approve its rules every Congress, the rules stay generally consistent from Congress-to-Congress, with more significant amendments often coming…
Cal/OSHA promptly published a “Frequently Asked Questions” document (“FAQs”), a one-page summary of the ETS, and a Model Prevention Plan. These documents shed additional light on the ETS and how it might be enforced.
Below is an overview of the key takeaways from the new ETS and subsequent Cal/OSHA publications.
Basic Elements of the COVID-19 Prevention Program
The central feature of the ETS is the requirement that all employers implement a written COVID-19 prevention plan. At a high level, the prevention plan must include the following:
- Communication to employees about the employer’s COVID-19 prevention procedures;
- Screening of employees for COVID-19, although employees may be asked to evaluate their own symptoms before coming to work;
- Identification, evaluation, and correction of COVID-19 hazards;
- Physical distancing of at least six feet unless it is not possible;
- Use of face coverings, with only limited exceptions;
- Use of engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment as required to reduce transmission risk;
- Procedures to investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases in the workplace, including to verify cases and receive information on test results and symptom onset;
- COVID-19 training to employees;
- Testing of employees who are exposed to a COVID-19 case, and in the case of multiple infections or a major outbreak, implementation of regular workplace testing for employees in the exposed work areas;
- Exclusion of COVID-19 cases and exposed employees from the workplace until they are no longer an infection risk; and
- Maintenance of records of COVID-19 cases and reporting of serious illnesses and multiple cases to Cal-OSHA and local health departments.
Closer Look: Training Requirements
The ETS requires employers to provide training and information on the following topics:
- The employer’s COVID-19 policies and procedures;
- Information regarding COVID-19-related benefits;
- The fact that COVID-19 is an infectious disease that can be spread through the air when an infectious person talks, vocalizes, sneezes, coughs, or exhales, that COVID-19 may be spread through surface contact, and that an infected person may have no symptoms;
- Methods of physical distancing at least six feet apart and the importance of face coverings;
- The fact that particles containing the virus can travel more than six feet, especially indoors, so other controls, including face covers and hand hygiene, must also be used;
- The importance of frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and the proper use of hand sanitizer;
- Proper use of face coverings and the fact that face coverings are not respiratory protective equipment; and
- COVID-19 symptoms, and the importance of obtaining a COVID-19 test and not coming to work if the employee has symptoms.
Closer Look: Investigation of COVID-19 Cases and Notification of Exposure
The ETS contains strict requirements for investigating COVID-19 cases in the workplace. Employers must determine the day and time the COVID-19 positive individual was last present and, to the extent possible, the date of the positive diagnosis or appearance of symptoms. Employers must determine which employees may have had a COVID-19 exposure by evaluating the activities of the COVID-19 case and all locations in the workplace the individual visited during the “high-risk exposure period.” The ETS defines the “high-risk exposure period” as either (1) from two days before they first develop symptoms until 10 days after the symptoms have first appeared, and 24 hours have passed with no fever, or (2) from two days before until ten days after the specimen for the individual’s first positive test for COVID-19 was collected.
Within one business day, the employer must notify all employees who may have had COVID-19 exposure (and any authorized representatives, such as their union), as well as any independent contractors or other employers present at the workplace during the high-risk exposure period. Importantly, the notice must not reveal the identity of the employee with COVID-19. The FAQs clarify that notification is required only to employees who were potentially exposed by being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period during the high-risk exposure period.