News & Events

Wednesday, December 2nd

Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulations to Protect Workers from COVID-19

Cal/OSHA has adopted emergency regulations – effective immediately – requiring all employers take additional action to protect their employees from COVID-related hazards. Cal/OSHA can enforce non-compliance with the new Standard through civil penalties, ranging in size depending on the severity of the violation. The official press release from the DIR can be read here

Does this regulation apply to you?

The emergency standards apply to all employees and places of employment with three exceptions:

  • Workplaces where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people
  • Employees who are working from home
  • Employees who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard

What do you need to do?

  • Refer to Cal/OSHA Resources
  • Develop, implement and maintain a written COVID Prevention Program, either as part of your Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or as a stand-alone document.
  • Investigate COVID-19 cases, notify and provide testing to potentially exposed employees.
  • Require physical distancing, mask wearing, improve ventilation, and maximize outdoor air.
  • Don’t allow employees to return to the worksite until quarantine ends, and pay employees throughout quarantines.
  • Report all outbreaks – 3 or more cases in two weeks – to public health department, and provide continuous testing at least weekly to all on site employees. For major outbreaks – 20 or more cases in 30 days, provide twice a week testing.
  • In employer provided housing, beds must be spaced, and daily disinfection is required.
  • In employer provided transportation, workers get screened before boarding, sit apart from each other and wear face coverings.

We understand this places additional burden on employers during already trying times. We will continue to evaluate the details of the regulation and keep you apprised to any new developments or resources as they become available. Given the scope of these provisions and the connection with other recently passed legislation such as AB 685, we encourage employers to evaluate these provisions with collaborative input from operation teams, safety personnel, human resources, and legal counsel. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office for questions regarding Cal/OSHA compliance or employer obligations. 


Tuesday, November 24th

AB 685: Effective 1/1/20201

As we continue navigating COVID-19 and safety in the workplace, we want to be sure you are aware of California Assembly Bill 685. This legislation, which takes effect on January 1, 2021, strengthens CAL/OSHA enforcement of infection prevention controls and requires timely notifications regarding any COVID-19 cases in the workplace.

California employers are already required to establish and maintain controls to limit employee exposure to COVID-19. Assembly Bill 685 (AB 685) gives Cal/OSHA the authority to shut down parts of a business or the entire operation if it determines an imminent hazard exists at that workplace due to COVID-19 exposure. In addition, unlike a typical enforcement action, advance notice and a waiting period are not required.

Most notably, the regulation also requires timely (one day) notifications to employees and union representatives who may have been exposed. This notification must include information on COVID-19 related benefits that may be available to an exposed employee as well as the employer’s plan for cleaning, disinfection, and safety to help prevent future exposure. Specific notification to employers of subcontractors who were at the worksite at the time of the potential exposure, is required within the same one-day time period.In addition, there are certain “outbreak” notification requirements to the local Health Department. It should be noted that the statute uses some specific definitions that govern when notice must be provided. You should review them carefully when determining when to notify employees. 

Each industry faces unique challenges in establishing adequate controls. To help employers with these challenges, please refer to the following guidance and other helpful resources:

Of course, the best way to avoid having to provide notice of COVID-19 exposure is to have good protocols in place to prevent workplace exposures in the first place. However, even with the best plans in place, there are no guarantees that workplace exposures can be completely eliminated in light of community spread of COVID-19. Because this new law has very detailed written notice requirements subject to enforcement, employers should work with legal counsel now to establish communication and documentation protocols ahead of the January 1, 2021 effective date. 

For general questions regarding employer obligations or Cal/OSHA compliance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office.


Thursday, August 20th

Webinars & Other Updates: August 20, 2020

Upcoming Webinars

Heat Illness Prevention
Presented by: State Fund
Recorded Webinar…View Anytime!

Talk about a heat wave! As temperatures rise, so does the risk of heat illness. California employers with any outdoor places of employment must comply with the Heat Illness Prevention standard. Due to the current state restrictions, many more employees may be working outdoors and might not be aware of the risks that can come with the heat.

Check out this webinar recording from State Compensation Insurance Fund to learn how to protect your employees from heat illness when working outdoors and maintain Cal/OSHA compliance.

Topics covered include:

  • Ways of preventing heat illness in outdoor workers
  • Signs and symptoms of heat illness and appropriate first aid/emergency response
  • The requirements of Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard, T8CCR Section 3395
  • What Cal/OSHA requires employers to include in a written Heat Illness Prevention Plan
  • Common Cal/OSHA citations related to work outdoors in the heat


More information can also be found via the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention eTool: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/etools/08-006/index.htm


Plan and Prepare for Q4:Retail, Restaurants, and Health & Wellness
Presented by: Cal Poly CIE Small Business Development Center
August 25, 2020 | 9:00 am – 11:00 am PST

As the biggest revenue-making quarter of the year approaches, we are bringing together experts in strategy and digital marketing to make sure your business is ready for the upcoming holiday season.

  • 9 am – 10:05 am General Session
  • 10:05 am -10:10 am Break
  • 10:10 am -11:00 am Industry Break Out Sessions

This workshop is led by Lani Lott, expert consultant in economic revitalization and Steve Burnside, a digital marketing specialist.
Lott will lay out the “Road Map to Prepare for the Holiday Season,” including customer outreach strategies and the importance of collaborating with fellow business owners. Burnside will discuss in-practice tools and platforms to digitally market strategies. Receive a valuable policy and regulation update from Downtown SLO and participate in breakout sessions, specific to your industry.

The registration fee for this workshop is $10/person

Other Information and Updates

California Wildfire Smoke Regulations

As if the heat wasn’t enough, the smoke produced by nearby wildfires is now adding another level of concern for outdoor workers.

State Fund has provided information regarding Cal/OSHA requirements and other steps that can be taken to help protect yourself and your employees against wildfire smoke exposure.

www.safeatworkca.com/news/wildfires-in-california-remember-the-new-smoke-regulation/

You can also visit https://www.airnow.gov/ to check and monitor air quality.

If you have questions regarding safety compliance as a result of impaired air quality, please email our Loss Control Analyst, Michael Schedler at mschedler@morrisgarritano.com.


Stay up-to-date with CDC Guidance

It is important to monitor your new safety practices and procedures for necessary changes, but staying up to date with the changing CDC guidance can be difficult.

For example, did you know the CDC made recent updates to when a person can discontinue home isolation?

Sign up for regular CDC newsletter updates by clicking the button below. Enter “COVID-19” in the search bar for applicable newsletters.


REMINDER: SLO City Small Business Relief Fund

Applications for the SLO CIty Small Business Relief Fund will be accepted until 5 pm on Monday, August 24. All for-profit businesses in the City of SLO are invited to review the eligibility criteria and apply. Applicants are eligible to receive a grant of $5,000 to help fill immediate financial gaps until they can resume normal operations.

Recipients will be notified of possible funding in mid-September. 


REMINDER: Paso Robles COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program

The deadline to apply for the Paso Robles COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program is August 23, 2020 with grant recipients being notified and funds allocated by mid to late September.

The program will assist 10 to 20 small businesses with micro-grants of up to $10,000 in one-time financial assistance for the purpose of relieving some of the costs caused by required closures/business interruption due to COVID-19. 

Businesses headquartered in the city of Paso Robles are invited to review the eligibility criteria and apply.


Wednesday, July 8th

SLO Office Open by Appointment

As our state and counties continue to advance through the reopening stages, we want to provide an update on the steps that Morris & Garritano is taking to ensure the safety of both our clients and employees while continuing to provide the services and assistance you rely on.

Our Offices and Employees
Starting July 8th, our San Luis Obispo office will be open by appointment only. While our staff is gradually returning to the office, many of our employees will still work remotely. We will continue to meet and communicate with you as we have through telephone and videoconference. Accommodations are available in our office to help facilitate meetings with a remote employee if needed. We ask that you reach out to your Advisor or Account Manager at 805-543-6887 to schedule a meeting. At this time, our Santa Maria office will remain closed to the public, but we will update you on any changes in the coming weeks. 

Safety and Cleanliness
We have made adjustments to our SLO office to allow for social distancing and remain diligent with our cleaning practices. We kindly ask that employees and visitors wear a mask while visiting our office. Single-use masks will be available for those who need them.

As time progresses, we will adjust these safety measures accordingly and will continue to communicate any changes with you as we have over the last few months. Responding to the needs of our clients remains a top priority and we appreciate your understanding as we adjust our operations to best serve you in this new environment.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

Morris & Garritano

Friday, June 26th

WCIRB Update: Eff. July 1, 2020

Insurance Commissioner issues Order resulting in workers’ compensation premium savings for California businesses affected by COVID-19

The order adopts emergency regulatory changes developed by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) effective July 1, 2020 to be applied retroactively. The Commissioner’s action mandates workers’ compensation carriers reflect in premiums the reduced risk of loss due to “stay-at-home” orders. 

The official notice from the Department of Insurance can be viewed here

The below video links will provide an overview of the notable amendments, but you can also visit the WCIRB’s full reference page for more information.

We encourage you to consider these changes as you assess the impact of COVID-19 to your estimated annual payroll (if on recurring billing), actual payroll (if billed on a reporting basis), or recent audit if applicable.

If you have questions, concerns, or need to make an adjustment to your policy, please feel free to contact your Risk Advisor or Account Manager for further assistance.

Uniform Statistical Reporting Plan



Experience Reporting Plan

Exclusion of COVID-19 Claims from Experience Modification
Section VI, Rating Procedure, Rule 2, Actual Losses and Actual Primary (Ap) Losses, was amended to specify that all claims directly arising from a diagnosis of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) shall not be reflected in the computation of an experience modification.


Tuesday, June 16th

Work Comp Webinar: AB5, Who is an Employee?

Do you work with or hire Independent Contractors?

If so, you won’t want to miss this webinar offered by State Fund. The webinar is designed to help you have a better understanding of Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) and the changes that have been made in determining employee status in California.

Experts will discuss what impact it may have on you, your business, and most importantly, what you can do now to prepare for the changes that will take effect on July 1, 2020 as it relates to your workers’ compensation coverage.

Not a State Fund policyholder? Not a problem, this webinar is open to the public.

Topics to be covered include:

• The Dynamex Supreme Court Decision
• New “ABC” Test• Prior Test – Borello
• Exemptions to the “ABC” Test
• New Labor Code Section 2750.3
• Potential Impact of AB5


Register here: https://scif.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mkRp0TozTT22T2Utpwp2CA


Friday, June 5th

Return to Work Resources

We are all eager to reopen our doors, but understand we also have a responsibility to do so safely – both for our customers and our employees. While there are numerous guidelines, updates, and best-practices available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

Our Return to Work page offers a comprehensive collection of links to workplace safety and human resource guidance material and templates.

It also includes a step-by-step video that will help California businesses navigate Industry Guidelines within the Resilience Roadmap so that you can feel confident in your next steps and focus on getting back to business.

We will continue to update this page, as well as our COVID-19 Resource Page as new developments and information is made available. If you have questions or would like further assistance, please reach out to your Account Manger or Risk Advisor.


Friday, March 6th

Coronavirus in the Workplace

As the coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as the media coverage surrounding it, continues to spread, we are receiving many questions from clients wondering what they can do to keep their employees safe as well as what is required of them from a liability stand point. To help, we have compiled the following information and resources.

Can coronavirus become a Work Comp claim?

Yes, if an employee contracts the virus during the scope or course of their job duties. For example, employers may be responsible in the following situations:

  • An employee travels or works overseas and contracts the illness.
  • An employee contracts the virus and infects coworkers in the office or on the job site.
  • An employee is assigned to work in a location with infected individuals and becomes infected.

In these scenarios, a Work Comp policy will typically cover lost time, permanent disability, medical expenses, and a death benefit as a result of the coronavirus.

What are my legal obligations as an employer?

Employers are obligated to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for their employees, but are also subject to a number of legal requirements protecting workers. For example, employers must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in their approach to dealing with COVID-19. (see HR Compliance Bulletin for more detailed information)

Will our benefits plan cover a coronavirus diagnosis?

While the specific coverages will be dependent on the individual’s plan benefits, most health plans will cover the care an employee would receive if diagnosed with coronavirus, unless otherwise determined by state law or regulation. However, they will still be responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses that their plan requires.

Please view our Carrier Resources for Coronavirus t o see what benefits and resources your specific carrier is providing. For many carriers, utilizing their Telemedicine services is the best first step if you are concerned about symptoms.

Steps you can take to protect and prevent

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a dedicated website providing information to businesses and employers. The following actions are recommended:

  • Encourage sick employees to stay home
  • Be more flexible with your sick leave policies
  • Educate employees on preventive measures
  • Keep a good stock of supplies such as tissues, hand sanitizer, and soap
  • Perform routine cleaning of frequently touched areas
  • Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps. If employees are required to travel for business, stay up to date on the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for guidance.

Helpful Materials & Resources

OSHA Safety & Health Topics
CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019
World Health Organization: Advice for the Public
EDD: Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)


Friday, February 28th

February 2020 Newsletter

Happy Leap Year! What should you do with an extra day in February? How about catching up with our newsletter! Watch our video about the benefits of Telemedicine, how to address the coronavirus with your employees, and learn how we can help you navigate through the claims process.


Thursday, February 20th

Featured Benefits Video: Telemedicine

Need urgent medical or mental health care? Why not consider Telemedicine? 

Qualified online doctors and mental health professionals are now readily available from the comfort of your home. These services are usually covered by insurance for no or low cost copays and include quick, easy access to expert medical and mental health advice and prescriptions .

Watch our quick educational video, Telemedicine, to learn more.

This video is also available in Spanish, Telemedicina.

For more educational videos on employee benefits and healthcare, check out our full Benefits Video Library, in both English and Spanish.