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Law requiring California hospitals to maintain PPE stockpiles takes effect today

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   April 01, 2021

RNs applaud legislation as crucial to healthcare worker safety.

A new law requiring California hospitals to build and maintain a three-month stockpile of N95 respirators, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), goes into effect today, April 1.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2537 in September 2020, which applies to employers whose employees provide direct patient care in a public- or private-sector hospital setting. The new law mandates these hospitals and healthcare systems maintain a stockpile of new and unexpired PPE in the "amount equal to three months of normal consumption."

They are required to stock:

  • N95 filtering facepiece respirators
  • Powered air-purifying respirators with high-efficiency particulate air filters
  • Elastomeric air-purifying respirators and appropriate particulate filters or cartridges
  • Surgical masks
  • Isolation gowns
  • Eye protection
  • Shoe coverings

The new law also requires employers to establish and implement effective written procedures for periodically determining the quantity and types of equipment used in its normal consumption.

"Hospitals have a responsibility to ensure that their employees have the equipment they need to stay safe," Cathy Kennedy, RN and a president of the California Nurses Association (CNA), said in a press release. "This new law is an important step in holding hospitals accountable and protecting nurses and other healthcare workers."

CNA was sponsor of the legislation, which also requires an employer to ensure that the employees use the PPE supplied to them.

Additionally, employers are required to provide an inventory of their stockpiles to California's division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) upon request.

Under the new law, an employer who violates the requirement to maintain the three-month supply of equipment will be fined a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation, unless the employer can't meet the requirement due to issues beyond their control, such as a manufacturer delay or it has been damaged or stolen, according to the law.

“Hospitals have a responsibility to ensure that their employees have the equipment they need to stay safe.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Hospitals and healthcare systems must maintain a three-month stockpile of new and unexpired PPE.

Employers must provide a stockpile inventory to California's division of OSHA upon request.

Penalties for each violation can cost employers up to $25,000.


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