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AB-2537 Personal protective equipment: health care employees.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 06/29/2020 09:00 PM
AB2537:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  June 29, 2020
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 04, 2020
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 12, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 2537


Introduced by Assembly Member Rodriguez
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Gonzalez)

February 19, 2020


An act to add Section 6403.3 to the Labor Code, relating to workplace safety.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2537, as amended, Rodriguez. Personal protective equipment: health care employees.
Existing law requires an employer to furnish employment and a place of employment that is safe and healthful for the employees and to establish, implement, and maintain an effective injury prevention program, as prescribed. Regulations enacted by the Department of Industrial Relations regulate the nature and use personal protective equipment and regulate practices in health care facilities connected with aerosol transmissible diseases.
This bill would require public and private employers of workers who provide direct patient care in a hospital setting to supply those employees with the personal protective equipment necessary to comply with the regulations described above, as specified. The bill would also require an employer to ensure that the employees use the personal protective equipment supplied to them. The bill would further require that an employer in this context maintain a supply of unexpired personal protective equipment that is new and not previously worn or used in an amount equal to 6 months of normal consumption and to provide an inventory of its stockpile to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health upon request. The bill would authorize the assessment of a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation to maintain the required stockpile. The bill would make a statement of legislative findings.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) As of May 4, 2020, local health departments in California have reported 6,167 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in nurses and health care workers and 33 deaths statewide. This data is collected daily and the number of infected nurses and health care workers continues to climb exponentially. While these figures include on-the-job exposures, they do not include the significant number of asymptomatic nurses and health care workers who are currently working every day who lack personal protective equipment and who also lack the priority testing that should be conducted for health care workers, given they are essential employees.
(b) Frontline nurses and health care workers treating patients with COVID-19 are likely exposed to the highest risk of infection because of their close, frequent contact with patients and working longer hours than usual. By the nature of their profession, health care workers in California are in daily danger of being directly exposed to all infectious diseases and novel pathogens, including COVID-19.
(c) The California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 stipulates that every employer has a legal obligation to provide and maintain a safe and healthful workplace for employees.
(d) The United States Department of Labor and the United States Department of Health and Human Services have encouraged employers to stockpile face masks and respirators in advance of a pandemic. It is clear now that manufacturing capacity at the time of a pandemic outbreak does not meet expected demand.
(e) Although over 41.5 million N95 respirators have been distributed in the State of California since March 2020, nurses and other health care workers have not seen the impact of this distribution in their units. In many cases, employers have locked up or rationed N95 respirators, leaving nurses and other health care workers unprotected. In some cases, nurses have been disciplined for bringing their own personal protective equipment or demanding that appropriate personal protective equipment be provided when treating COVID-19 positive patients. Nurses and health care workers who need protection should have access to these respirators. Nurses and health care workers deserve protection while doing their jobs and if they are not protected, the COVID-19 virus will spread even faster and impact our health care system’s ability to respond.

SEC. 2.

 Section 6403.3 is added to the Labor Code, to read:

6403.3.
 (a) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Employer” means a person or organization that employs workers in the public or private sector to provide direct patient care in the hospital setting.
(2) “Personal protective equipment” means the equipment and devices necessary to comply with Sections 3380 and 5199 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, as they provided that those requirements are at least as protective as those sections read on May 4, 2020.
(b) An employer shall supply personal protective equipment to employees who provide direct patient care in a hospital setting. An employer shall ensure that employees use the personal protective equipment supplied to them.
(c) An employer shall maintain a stockpile of unexpired personal protective equipment in the amount equal to six months of normal consumption. Personal protective equipment in the stockpile shall be new and not previously worn or used. An employer shall provide an inventory of its stockpile to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health upon request. An employer who violates the requirement to maintain a supply of unexpired personal protective equipment prescribed by this subdivision shall be assessed a civil penalty of up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) for each violation.
(d) Subdivision (b) is declaratory of existing law.