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September 2022: Cal/OSHA Releases Guidance for Monkeypox

27 Sep

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Update Applicable to:
All employers in the state of California.

What happened?
On September 13, 2022, Cal/OSHA issued guidance to protect employees as Monkeypox (MPX) continues to be an issue throughout California.

What are the details?
The guidance provides the following information on MPX transmissibility and symptoms and the preventive measures that covered California employers are required to take to protect their workers from MPX.

Monkeypox Transmission
According to the guidance:

Monkeypox spreads primarily through contact with infectious rashes, lesions, scabs, or body fluids. It can also spread through touching materials used by a person with MPX that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing, towels, and bedding. The virus can become airborne during changing or handling of contaminated linen.

Symptoms
The guidance states:

Infection with MPX may start with symptoms similar to the flu, including fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches, although some patients do not have these symptoms. After the fever starts, the person can develop a rash or lesions.

The guidance also states that an infection “typically lasts 2-4 weeks.”

Covered Employers
The guidance notes that the ATD Standard has requirements that are specific to three different categories of employers, including “referring employers,” “laboratories,” and “all other employers.”

Referring Employers
The guidance states, “a referring employer is an employer covered by the ATD Standard who refers airborne infectious disease cases and suspect cases, such as MPX, to other facilities.”

Laboratories
The guidance states that “laboratory operations where employees may be exposed to certain aerosolized aerosol transmissible pathogens, including the MPX virus, are covered by the ATD Standard.”

All Other Employers”
This category covers hospitals, homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, and correctional/detention facilities
generally covered by the ATD Standard.

Required Preventive Measures
The guidance states that all employers “must ensure that [personal protective equipment] is provided and used by employees exposed to persons with or suspected to have MPX, or to linens or surfaces that may contain the virus.” In addition, the guidance requires all employers to “implement written procedures for exposure incidents (also known as a ‘significant exposure’)” and report exposures to a local health officer.

The guidance requires hospitals and “all other employers” (and, in some cases, referring employers) to do the following:

  • “Implement a written ATD Exposure Control Plan specific to the workplace and operations.”
  • “Obtain the active involvement of employees in reviewing and updating the Exposure Control Plan.”
  • “Implement procedures to identify and isolate MPX cases and suspect cases. Transfer MPX and suspect cases to airborne infection isolation rooms or areas when possible and available.”
  • “Provide and ensure the use of respiratory protection (fit-tested, NIOSH-approved particulate respirator equipped with an N95 filter or higher level of protection)” necessary to minimize employee exposure to MPX.

The guidance requires covered laboratories to “implement a written Biosafety Plan to minimize employee exposures to aerosol transmissible pathogens.” The guidance lists numerous criteria written biosafety plans must meet to comply with Cal/OSHA’s requirements.

For more information, please see the links below:

Cal/OSHA Guidance

Monkeypox (MPX) Background and Facts

Department of Industrial Relations News Release

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and do their best to reduce the spread of Monkeypox by implementing or changing their company hygiene and sanitation policies to help ensure their and their employees’ safety.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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