Employer Playbook Includes What to Do If COVID-19 Outbreak in Workplace

Guidance on what to do if there’s a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace and links to the many state resources for employers have been packaged by the state in a 32-page COVID-19 Employer Playbook For a Safe Reopening.

The playbook was released by Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on July 24 and updated last week.

The playbook includes guidance on:

• When and how an employer must report that a worker has tested positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms;

• Preventing further spread of the virus in the workplace after a case has been identified;

• Cleaning and disinfecting work areas of infected workers before permitting other workers to enter.

The playbook notes that employers must contact the local health department in any jurisdiction where a COVID-19 employee lives when there is an outbreak—defined as “three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a two-week period among employees who live in different households.”

Reopening Reminders

The playbook reminds employers that before reopening, all facilities must:

• Perform a detailed risk assessment and create a worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan.

• Train workers on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen for symptoms and when to stay home.

• Set up individual control measures and screenings.

• Put disinfection protocols in place.

• Establish physical distancing guidelines.

• Establish universal face covering requirements (with allowed exceptions) in accordance with CDPH guidelines.

CDPH and Cal/OSHA have issued statewide industry-specific guidelines and checklists to help employers.

Checklists and Links

Tables in the playbook serve as checklists on steps employers should take on:

• Outbreak identification preparedness;

• Communicating identified cases of COVID-19 to the local health department;

• Communicating identified COVID-19 cases to workers;

• Preventing further spread of COVID-19 in the workplace;

• Deciding whether to suspend operations temporarily due to a COVID-19 infection.

Employers are advised to consult with the local health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on when a worker confirmed to have COVID-19 may return to work. As reference, the playbook includes a table outlining the CDC’s minimum criteria (as of July 28, 2020) for when an infected worker may return to work.

The playbook contains links to many of the referenced resources at Cal/OSHA, the CDC and other government entities, as well as a list of enforcement and compliance contacts and case studies of how a packaged food company and supermarket chain are dealing with COVID-19.


The playbook is available as a link under the Industry Guidance button on the state website at covid19.ca.gov.