CDCR/CCHCS Continues to Ignore Legal Requirements Rolling Out COVID Mandates
On November 8, 2021, SEIU Local 1000 served a Cease and Desist letter on CDCR/CCHCS for ignoring Cal-OSHA requirements for proper and safe use of N95 respirator masks. This action was the result of complaints from a number of CDCR/CCHCS employees who notified Local 1000 President Richard Louis Brown that employees in CDCR/CCHCS institutions across the state were being required to don N95 masks without being fit-tested first. President Brown demanded immediate action. SEIU Local 1000 notified CDCR/CCHCS labor relations that its mandate that all employees wear N95 masks as a condition of employment violates standards dictated by Cal-OSHA.
According to these legal requirements, employers like CDCR/CCHCS who require respiratory protection if the working conditions include harmful exposures, along with providing the respirators, must have a written respiratory protection program that addresses:
- proper selection of respiratory equipment
- employee training
- medical evaluation of an employee’s ability to wear a respirator
- ensuring proper fit of the respirators
- proper respirator use, storage, and cleaning
To require N95 masking —as opposed to other masks for precautionary reasons—the employer must also follow all other applicable requirements in Title 8 CCR section 5144. Our Cease and Desist letter contended that CDCR/CCHCS failed to correctly follow this regulation. The Union’s Resource Center is working on a follow-up statewide challenge.