Last week, on October 20, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) issued proposed revisions to the Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”). If approved, the revisions would be in place from January 14, 2022 until April 14, 2022.
COVID-19 Prevention: The proposed language no longer differentiates between fully-vaccinated and unvaccinated employees for purposes of indoor COVID-19 screenings. As a result, all employees, regardless of vaccination status, must wear facial coverings when being screened for COVID-19 indoors. In addition, the Standards Board no longer requires that employers maintain a separate COVID-19 prevention plan. Such plans may be integrated into the employers’ injury and illness prevention plan as long as the IIPP has the COVID-19 protocols.
Investigating And Responding To COVID-19 Cases In The Workplace: Employers must also make testing available, at no cost, to all employees who had a close contact in the workplace with a COVID-19 case or in the case of an outbreak. Again, fully-vaccinated employees are no longer exempted from the close-contact testing requirements.
Close Contacts Within the Workplace:
1. Workplace Exclusions: Employers have more flexibility with respect to workplace exclusions. Now, following a close contact, an asymptomatic employee may continue to work if he or she tests negative for COVID-19 three to five days after the close contact; and wears a face covering and maintains 6-feet of physical distance from others in the workplace for at least 14 days following the last day of contact. In addition, the proposed regulations do not require employers to provide exclusion pay, although they are still responsible for providing information about benefits.
2. Return to Work:
- A COVID-19 case may return to work at least 10 days since the COVID-19 symptoms occurred; symptoms have improved and it has been at least 24 hours since a fever of 100.4 or more, without the use of fever-reducing medication. Such employees are no longer required to produce evidence of a negative PCR test.
- Close contacts may return to work seven days after the last contact, provided that they had a timely negative PCR test and wear a face covering and maintain 6-feet of physical distance for others in the workplace for at least 14 days following the last day of the close contact.
In addition, revisions impact the ETS sections concerning employer-provided housing and transportation. Namely, they ease restrictions when all employees living in employer-provided housing are fully vaccinated and require facial coverings during employer-provided transport.
Again, OSHA’s ETS concerning COVID-19 continue to evolve as Californians return to work in greater numbers during this pandemic.