Spikes in COVID-19 and changes to prevention rules raise question

Where is your prevention plan?

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California has seen a recent increase in the number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19. While there are currently no indications that state or local governments plan to scale back the reopening of businesses, this spike will likely lead to increased enforcement of current prevention mandates. Every dealership in the state should therefore ask whether it is in compliance with state and local requirements, including recent modifications to those requirements.

Last month Governor Newsom’s office released the Phase 2 guidance of the California Resilience Roadmap for “lower-risk workplaces” detailing the steps businesses in specific industries must take to reopen. The guidance includes dealership opening protocols and requires that dealerships do all of following:

  • Prepare a written, worksite specific prevention plan
  • Perform a comprehensive risk assessment of all work areas
  • Designate a person at each facility to implement and monitor the plan
  • Train employees regarding the prevention plan
  • Regularly evaluate the plan for compliance and correct deficiencies with documentation
  • Investigate any COVID-19 illness among an employee and assess if work-related factors contributed to risk
  • Identify close-contacts of any infected employee

Notably, these requirements include written policies and documentation of compliance efforts, and are likely to be in place for months. Every dealer that has not already done so should therefore invest in creating and documenting a workable plan.

Last week, Governor Newsom also issued a state-wide mandate requiring that all people wear face coverings in certain circumstances. While the public messaging from the government is that people should wear masks any time they are out of the home, the order contains important nuances every dealership should understand. To clarify these requirements for customers and employees, every dealership should work with counsel to prepare a face covering policy that is clear and enforceable.

In addition, on June 23, LA County issued a modification to its reopening protocols, stating for the first time that dealerships can offer test drives accompanied by a sales person. These test drives must be conducted in a particular manner to comply with the order. Dealers should therefore also consider putting in place a test drive policy that meets these requirements while also eliminating additional risk to customers and employees.

Finally, counties across the state have issued orders requiring businesses to publicly post and communicate their Prevention Plans. For example, LA County requires businesses to post their county reopening checklists. Orange County requires them to post an attestation that the business has fully complied with the state reopening guidance. Alameda County requires that copies of the Prevention Plan be posted at public entrances. Each locality is different, but most urban counties are requiring businesses to publicly display information affirming compliance with the order; failing to do so is an easy way for customers and health inspectors to notice non-compliance with the law.

As COVID-19 continues to burden the state and our country, dealers should prepare for a long road ahead by ensuring they are complying with local and state requirements. Investing now in compliance decreases the risk of enforcement actions by local regulators. More importantly, though, it serves as a strong way to protect your store from potential liability from employee and customer claims. Contact the attorneys of Scali Rasmussen today about how we can help you achieve compliance for a low, predictable cost.