How is California getting Back to Work with AB-685?

Post by
Jay Pugliese
How is California getting Back to Work with AB-685?
On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed AB 685 into law, establishing new requirements for employers to notify employees and their unions about a potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. The new law, which will be in effect from January 1, 2021, until January 1, 2023, also requires employers to report a COVID-19 “outbreak” at the worksite to local health authorities.  Further, AB 685 relaxes the pre-citation requirements that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) must follow before issuing a citation for a serious violation related to COVID-19.  Our Care360 app can validate your organization’s protocols and be your system of record through this new landscape.

Try our app for free by emailing Jay Pugliese for your free code

Takeaway

As you are aware, things are changing quickly and there is a lack of clear-cut authority or bright-line rules on implementation.  Limit  liability for your organization by leveraging Care360 clinical, technical, legal, and business experience.  Care360, by CareValidate, is the first to market with a complete solution for AB 685 compliance and we would love to discuss how we can help you.  Contact us now at Info@carevalidate.com


Confidentiality and Privacy under AB 685

Seek to resolve the tension between employees’ privacy and employers’ needs to have effective means to record, control, and communicate COVID-19 outbreaks.  Employers have been facing challenging demands from public health authorities and unions who argue they need to know this information to preserve public health or workplace safety.  Yet your employees are concerned about their privacy.  Care360 is not a GPS solution that follows you everywhere and sells your data for other purposes than public health, but rather a Bluetooth Low Energy product that uses beacon technology to gain proximity data and solely monitor worksite interactions and events.  Care360 does not need to know who or where you are, just that you are safe.

How do I comply with COVID-19 exposure notification requirements?

Under AB 685, the requirement to notify employees who may have been exposed to Covid-19 in the workplace is now mandatory for public and private employers.  This requires an employer or representative of the employer who receives “notice of potential exposure” to COVID-19 to take the following actions within one business day.  Care360 automates this heavy operational process for your team.
· Notify Potentially Infected Employees: California businesses must provide notifications to all employees, and the employers of subcontracted employees, who were on the premises at the same worksite within 24hrs.  To comply with your obligation to preserve employee privacy, the anonymous design of Care360 will provide automated notifications in a time-compliant manner that does not reveal the identity of the individual in question.
· Infectious Period: Section 6409.6(d)(2) defines “infectious period” as “the time a COVID-19-positive individual is infectious”, as defined by the State Department of Public Health. However, this information is not easily located and hard to manage.  Take the guesswork out of your company's protocols and messages within the Care360 application.
· Notice of Potential Exposure: This is where it gets confusing. Section 6409(d)(3) defines “notice of potential exposure” as including any of the following:
(a) a public health official/licensed medical provider that an employee was exposed to the qualifying individual at the worksite, or
(b) from an employee/employee’s emergency contact that the employee is a qualifying individual;
(c) notice through the employer’s testing protocol that an employee is a qualifying individual; or
(d) notice from a subcontracted employer that a qualifying individual was on the worksite.  

Care360 brings transparency and bridges the gap between your employees, vendors, and other visitors, and provides the appropriate messaging to each subgroup.  No need to hire an army of contact tracers - just download the Care360 application or contact jay@carevalidate.com for a demo.
· Qualifying Individual: Section 6409.6(d)(4) defines a “qualifying individual” as a person who:
(1) has a laboratory-confirmed positive case or a diagnosis from a licensed health care provider,
(2) received an isolation order from a public health official, or
(3) died due to COVID-19.

Because an individual may receive a local isolation order based on potential exposure and not a confirmed case, the inclusion of such individuals may subject employers to providing notice more frequently.  Care360 allows you to choose when, where and how those messages are sent.
· Worksite: Section 6409.6(d)(5) defines “worksite” as “the building, store, facility, agricultural field, or other location where a worker worked during the infectious period.” Further, the employer need only notify employees who were at the same worksite as the qualified individual.”  Although this definition may limit the number of notice recipients for some employers, an employer with many employees in multiple facilities, locations, or regions would suggest a communication nightmare.  Ask us about our proprietary AreaBeacons that define buildings, floors, or rooms of your organization for your peace of mind. An additional bonus of AreaBeacons is knowing where to disinfect within your organization.
· Contents of Union Notice: Section 6409.6(c) states that the notice to the union representative must contain the same information required in an incident report.  Care360 will automate your responsibility to report to unions, without human error.  Furthermore, union plans must be communicated back to your employees.  Care360 will likewise message your employees with their unions' protocols for Covid-19 protocols.


Requirements for Reporting an Outbreak to Local Health Authorities

Under Labor Code section 6409.6(b), employers must notify the local public health department within 48 hours of notice of a COVID-19 “outbreak” (as defined by the CDPH).  The CDPH currently defines an “outbreak” as “three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among workers who live in different households within a two-week period.”  Care360 operationalizes allCase Investigation and Reporting tasks.