By the California Nurses Association
In a big win for nurses and other health care workers, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation today [Sept. 29] to require hospitals to create and maintain a stockpile of N95 masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), announced California Nurses Association (CNA).
Sponsored by CNA and authored by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, AB 2537 applies to employers whose employees provide direct patient care in a public or private sector hospital setting, requiring employers to provide and ensure that employees use PPE to protect themselves. The PPE shall be new and not expired.
The law also mandates these employers to maintain a stockpile of unexpired personal protective equipment in the amount equal to three months of normal consumption. Decontaminated PPE cannot be part of their stockpile.
Additionally, employers are required to provide an inventory of their stockpiles to Cal/OSHA upon request. AB 2537 ensures that an employer who violates this requirement shall be assessed a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each such violation pursuant to Cal/OSHA.
“We want to make hospitals in the state responsible for their own workers,” said CNA President Zenei Cortez, RN. “Hospitals are responsible for providing a safe workplace and that includes PPE. They should not be relying exclusively on support from federal or state government stockpiles to provide PPE for nurses and other health care workers.”
On Sept. 21, Gov. Newsom signed another CNA-sponsored bill AB 2037, which would expand public notice requirements to affected communities to 120 days before a hospital closes, and 90 days for elimination of an existing service. Awaiting Newsom’s signature is CNA-sponsored AB 2588, which would stop employers from mandating that RN job applicants pay for required educational programs or training.