AB 685, Cal/OSHA ETS Compliance FAQs – Kiana Smart Facility Solution

How the Kiana Smart Facility Solution Helps Your Business Achieve AB 685 plus Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) Compliance Efficiently & Rapidly.

 

Avoid Cal / OSHA fines and shutdowns!  Minimize your risk

 

AB 685 enhances Cal/OSHA’s enforcement of COVID-19 infection prevention requirements (ETS) by allowing for Orders for Prohibiting Use (Worksite Shutdown), and citations for serious violations related to COVID-19 to be issued more quickly.  The law also requires employers to notify all employees who were at a worksite of all potential exposures to COVID-19 and notify the local public health agency of outbreaks.

Not only must employers be concerned with AB 685, but also must comply also with Cal/OSHAs  “COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS)” regulations which went into effect November 30, 2020. AB 685 is an Enhancement of these regulations.

Kiana’s Smart Facility Platform & technology can help you with the AB 685 notification and record keeping requirements, by automating, simplifying, and documenting the data and information required for compliance.

Question:

What are the benefits of the Kiana Smart Facility Solution, and how does it help Employers implement processes and comply with Cal/OSHA’s ETS and AB 685 requirements?

Answer:

In a nutshell, the Kiana Smart Facility Platform provides the following benefits for managing your Corporate Facilities:

  • COVID-19 Digital Contact Tracing: Identifying exposed persons
  • Surgical Cleaning: Identifying areas that have been compromised so they can be cleaned
  • Physical Distancing compliance analyses: enforce physical distancing
  • Re-engineering your facility: Redesign your corporate facilities to avoid congestion and clustering. Segment the “workplace” into smaller worksites that can significantly reduce the spread of the virus and reduce the financial liability with respect to “outbreaks & testing”.
  • Enforce Regional Regulations: such as CA AB 685

 

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Question:

Why is the Kiana Smart Facility Platform with Digital Contact Tracing the solution of choice for Employers in the post pandemic challenge, as well as for going forward to provide health and wellness centered facilities to employees?

Answer:

Kiana has been providing this real time location based technology over the last 7.5 years, in the industries such as “Foot Traffic Analysis”, Facilities Management, Physical Security, and now COVID-19 Digital Contact Tracing.

  • Kiana’s technology identifies and locates mobile devices in a physical location. It provides a graphical representation (map)  showing the movement of people throughout the facility, how long they spend in a location, what their distance is from other people, and where they cluster.
  • The platform does not require the installation of additional hardware or software, and uses the existing Enterprise WiFi in buildings. Enterprise WiFi providers such as Aruba, Cisco, Fortinet, Ruckus and Extreme are fully supported.
  • Kiana is GDPR, and CCPA compliant, with respect to data privacy and Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
  • Kiana is a Smart Facility Platform. It is more than just a platform to communicate COVID infections.  All of the information in addition to the contact tracing is given back to the facility.  It informs Facility Management where and when to clean, how to modify your space so it’s more consistent with your health protocols, as well as other workspace usage and traffic congestion information that is important for general facility operations management.

 

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Question:

What are the basics of AB 685?

Answer:

the following are the general requirements of the AB 685 bill.  For more detailed requirements of the ETS (COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards), see question 5.

  • Employers are required to notify all employees at a worksite of potential exposures, COVID-19 related benefits and protections, and disinfection and safety measures that will be taken at the worksite in response to the potential exposure.
  • Employers are required to notify local public health agencies of all workplace “outbreaks”, which are defined as 3 or more laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 among employees who live in different households within a two-week period
  • From Jan 1, 2021 until Jan 1, 2023, Cal/OSHA can issue an Order Prohibit Use (OPU) to shut down an entire worksite or a “specific worksite area” that exposes employees to an imminent hazard related to COVID-19.
  • From 1/1/2021 – 1/1/2023 Cal/OSHA can issue citations for serious violations related to COVID-19 without giving employers 15-day notice before issuance.

How Kiana Helps:

  • Kiana’s solution can quickly identify who has been exposed to a COVID positive individual by performing an immediate digital contact trace.
  • The contact tracing can be implemented to determine people that have been exposed over the last 14 days. The platform can provide the historical data that employers will need to investigate the “before”, as well as the “after” according to the ETS requirements.
  • Because the platform is “location aware”, information of which buildings/rooms/areas the COVID positive person visited is easily determined.  The entire worksite (facility) can be segmented into “zones”, thereby decreasing both the area of “potential exposure”, as well as the number of people that have been potentially exposed.
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Question:

Who specifically needs to be notified?  And what needs to be included in the notification?

Answer:

The law clearly states that employers must provide a written notice to all employees, and the employers of subcontracted employees, who were on the premises at the same worksite as the person who was infectious with COVID-19 or who was subject to a COVID-19 related quarantine order.   This notification must occur within one business day.

In addition Notification must be given to union representatives or other designated representatives (e.g. lawyers).  Also notification must be given to subcontractors and other 3rd parties.

The following information needs to be in the notifications.  It is important to NOT include the person’s name or other PII (Personally Identifiable Information:

  • Date (s) of exposure
  • Location of exposure
  • Benefits or Leave available
  • Cleaning procedures

How Kiana Helps:

The notification timeline of 1 business day, prohibits the use of “manual contact tracing”, as there would not be time to first identify the potentially exposed people and then send out notification.  Kiana’s solution can immediately run the contact trace and automatically notify potentially exposed individuals with an automated alert (e.g. text or email).  This can all be done well within the 1 business day constraint.

The Kiana Smart Facility Platform is accessed through a web application in to which employees can login. They can see their status for the last few days.  They can fill out CDC exposure questionnaires.  The platform ties directly to the CDC website, thus, any information they provide or questions that get changed or added will be immediately updated.   This allows the employers to comply with CDC guidelines, as well.

Employees can see their exposure status, and click on the AB 685 compliance form button and arrive at the downloadable version of the form, which gives the employee directly the instructions on how they are to proceed, whether it’s quarantining at home, etc.  The instructions that are provided are customized directly by the employer, whatever processes that have been set up to handle COVID exposures.  This is the same notification form that would be provided to a contract or other 3rd party.

 

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Question:

What are the main requirements of the ETS (COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards)? AB 685 is one component of this ETS, which was passed by Cal/OSHA (see question 3).

Answer:

To comply with the ETS, an employer must develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program or ensure its elements are included in an existing Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).

The employer must implement the following in accordance with their written plan:

  • Communication to employees about the employer’s COVID-19 prevention procedures. Part of this is your AB 685 Notice. Employees have obligations regarding what they need to do when there is an infection in the workplace.
  • Identify, evaluate and correct COVID-19 hazards
  • Physical distancing of at least six feet unless it is not possible
  • Use of face coverings
  • Use 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
  • Provide COVID-19 training to employees
  • Provide testing to employees who are exposed to a COVID-19 case, and in the case of multiple infections or a major outbreak, implement 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
  • Maintain records of COVID-19 cases and report serious illnesses and multiple cases to Cal/OSHA and the local health department, as required.

 

 

How Kiana Helps:

 

Kiana helps you with the immediate contact tracing itself, and because it is location aware, it defines what is an “exposed workplace”.  By segmenting your entire facility into “zones”, you can reduce the size of the “exposed workplace”.  Since the software allows you to track where your employees have gone, it reduces the number of employees that you may have to test.  Having proof that certain employees are only going to certain locations, and that they don’t have unfettered access to the entire facility/building, you can narrow down how much testing you have to do in an outbreak.  You can narrow down those 3 positive cases in an outbreak. The requirement is 3 positive people in “that particular workspace”, not the entire work site.

Kiana’s solution also allows you to document adherence to the 6 ft. social distancing guideline.  The exact location of employees, plus their proximity to other employees is shown on a map.  This documentation may be required in your investigation and can be saved for as long as necessary.  It can also be presented to Cal/OSHA in accordance with their policies.

ETS requires that the employer identify, evaluate, and correct COVID-19 hazards.  The Kiana platform allows the employer to identify which areas have been compromised by a COVID positive person, and allows those areas to be closed off until surgical cleaning can be accomplished.

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Question:

What kind of communications do employers need to provide to their employees?

Answer:

The Employer must communicate the following to Employees:

  • How to report COVID-19 symptoms, exposures and hazards to the employer without fear of reprisal, i.e., anonymity.
  • COVID-19 hazards in the workplace and policies and procedures to address them
  • Any procedures the employer has for accommodating employees with elevated risk factors for COVID-19, such as heart disease, diabetes, lung diseases, etc.
  • How employees can obtain testing for COVID-19, such as through employer’s workplace-based testing program, or through the local health department, a health plan, or at a community testing center.
  • Notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 (AB 685 notice)
  • Cleaning and disinfection protocols (also part of AB 685 notice)
  • How to participate in workplace hazard identification and evaluation.

 

 

How Kiana Helps:

Kiana’s Smart Facility Platform was built with Privacy in mind, and provides anonymous methods for employees to report, and for employers to communicate, with other employees.  None of the data is exposed outside of the employer’s network (adheres to GDPR & CCPA Privacy standards).  It all comes to the Kiana Platform encrypted.  Any information is also deleted upon request from the Employer.  Information is only available to an internal person who has permission to access it.

The benefits for notification of exposed and potentially exposed Employees with respect to AB 685 is covered in question 4.

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Question:

What kind of investigation of COVID-19 cases is required by the employer?

Answer:

There are two types of investigations that are required, for which Kiana can provide automation and help.

  • Determine where the person got COVID-19. Was it an external hazard or an internal hazard?  Kiana’s platform can help by back-tracking where this person went and with whom they came in contact with prior to testing positive.   The software can retrieve contact tracing data for the previous 14 day period.
  • Going forward, have any other employees who were exposed to the original positive person, exposed others.  Complete contact tracing can be completed for all individuals possibly exposed and they can be notified for testing.

 

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Question:

Why is this important and why should businesses be concerned with compliance?  What is at risk for the employer?

Answer:

Compliance should be adhered to for the following reasons:

  • Employers don’t want more cases and exposures in their workplace.
  • Possible wrongful death cases & safety violation cases (attorney fees provisions)
  • Possible OSHA complaints. OSHA can put a stop work order on your facility if you have an imminent hazard.
    • Each violation can have a fine up to $25,000
    • Willful violation: Up to $100,000 per violation
    • Multiple violations can be applied, a violation can be assigned to each item that the employer has not complied with. (e.g., haven’t implemented social distancing, and employees not wearing face mask, and cleaning protocols not defined and implemented.)
  • Disgruntled employees who file whistleblower claims. (attorney fees provisions)
  • Possible criminal consequences, especially if there is a fatality in the workplace.

 

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Question:

What are the Testing Requirements in the ETS?

Answer:

An employer’s testing obligations are as follows:

  • Inform all employees on how they can obtain testing (information). This could be through the employer, local health department, a helath plan, or at a community testing center.
  • Offer testing to an employee at no cost and during working hours in the event of a potential COVID-189 work-related exposure.
  • Provide periodic (at least weekly or twice per week depending on the magnitude of the outbtreak) COVID-19 testing to all employees in an “exposed workplace” during an outbreak
  • Testing must be provided in a manner that ensures employee confidentiality

 

 

How Kiana Helps:

Kiana’s Platform allows you to control and reduce the numbers of people that you will need to test.  Testing and paid leave associated with it can be VERY expensive.  Employers want to reduce their financial liability by reducing not only the number of people that need to be tested, but also by surgically cleaning only compromised areas, such that business can continue as usual in not affected parts of the facility.  Preventing people who have been exposed from coming into the workplace and controlling exposures when outbreaks occur, helps reduce the possible financial repercussions, and also provides a healthier and safer environment for your employees.

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Question:

What is the definition of an Outbreak?

Answer:

There are types of “Outbreaks”, and they need to be treated differently

  • Minor Outbreak:
    • If the local department of health has identified the facility as an outbreak or there are 3 or more COVID-19 cases in an exposed workplace within a 14-day period, the Company has enhanced procedures. These policies will apply until there are no new COVID-19 cases detected in a workplace for a 14-day period.
      • According to Worker’s Comp: 4 cases or 4 percent
      • According to AB 685: 3 “employee positive cases”
      • According to ETS: 3 of any cases, including subcontractors, 3rd party vendors that come into the workplace.
    • The company will provide COVID-19 testing to all employees who were present during the period of the outbreak. The testing will be provided at no cost to employees and employees will be paid for time spent taking the test.

Since there are 3 different definitions of “minor outbreak”, the employer should separate out their response plan based on the scenario of the occurrence.

Under the ETS, if the employer has 3 of any kind of cases, they must provide notice as per AB 685, and must provide testing for any employees exposed.

  • Major Outbreak:
    • If there are 20 or more COVID-19 cases in an exposed workplace within a 30-day period, the Company has enhanced procedures. These policies will apply until there are no new COVID-19 cases detected in a workplace for a 14-day period.
    • The Company will provide COVID-19 testing twice a week, or more frequently as recommended by the local health department, to all employees present at the exposed workplace during the relevant 30-day period and who remain at the workplace.

 

How Kiana Helps:

If the employer is not separating out sections of the “workplace” (e.g running a work center where you can’t divide your exposed workplaces), the expense gets huge.  The employer will be required to:

  • Pay for testing
  • Time spent for getting tested
  • Mileage
  • Loss of productivity.

Employers should “run the numbers” on how much will be spent, given the structure and organization of your “workplace”.  The Kiana Smart Facility Platform is essential in minimizing your financial liability, avoiding shutdown, and efficiently implementing processes and procedures as defined by the ETS and AB 685.divider

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