On September 29, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2537, which significantly expands upon employers’ existing baseline obligations for providing a safe and healthful work environment. The new bill creates specific requirements regarding general acute care hospitals’ distribution and supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Its purpose is to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19.
Before the passage of this legislation, California broadly required that employers provide safe and healthful places of employment and to maintain effective injury prevention programs. The new statute, applies to both public and private employers, operating general acute care hospitals as defined in California Health and Safety Code Section 1250(a). Under the statute, general acute care hospitals are required to provide PPE to their employees who provide direct patient care or provide services directly supporting personal care.
The bill also requires those employers to maintain specific stockpiles of specified respirators, particulate filters or cartridges, surgical masks, isolation gowns, eye protection, and shoe coverings. Specifically, beginning April 1, 2021, those employers must maintain a 3-month supply of the specified equipment. Further, the bill requires employers to establish and implement effective written procedures for periodically determining the quantity and types of equipment used in its normal consumption.
In addition, general acute care hospitals must be prepared to report their highest 7-day consecutive daily average consumption of PPE during the 2019 calendar year to the Department of Industrial Relations. Employers violating the PPE supply requirement may incur a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation. However, hospitals may not incur the penalty if the failure to meet the requirements is due to issues beyond their control.