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.

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.”

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:

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.