Cal/OSHA’s Revised COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards

CDF Labor Law LLP

As California community COVID transmissions decline and Governor Newsom promises to re-open the economy on June 15, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board hesitates on lifting face mask requirements in the office.

On June 3, 2021, California’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (“Cal/OSHA”) updated the Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) that were first adopted in November 2020.  This blog piece updates CDF’s recent blog about the impact of the expected revisions for California employers. We expect that the revised ETS will become effective June 15, in conjunction with the Governor’s plan to re-open the economy.

The revised ETS include:

  • Face Coverings: When there is a mixture of fully-vaccinated and unvaccinated (or partially vaccinated) workers in a room, everyone must wear a face covering; fully-vaccinated workers may shed their masks when healthy and working alone in a room, around others who are fully-vaccinated, or if they are outside (except if working at an “outdoor mega-event” with over 10,000 attendees).
  • Physical Distancing: Employers may eliminate physical distancing and partitions within workspaces if an employer provides respirators, such as N95 masks, to unvaccinated employees for voluntary use. And, after July 31, 2021, physical distancing and barriers will no longer be required (except during outbreaks), but employers must provide all unvaccinated employees with N95s for voluntary use.
  • Prevention Program: Employers must still provide a written prevention plan; the training and instruction to all employees must include information as to the efficacy of vaccines at preventing COVID-19 and protecting against both transmission and serious illness or death. In addition, employers must review the California Department of Public Health’s Interim Guidance for Ventilation, Filtration and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.
  • Exclusions from the Workplace: Fully-vaccinated workers do not have to be excluded from the workplace following close contact with a person with COVID-19, provided they are not symptomatic. Otherwise, any worker with COVID-19 symptoms (which continues to have a very expansive definition under the ETS) should be excluded from the workplace and if unable to work remotely, may be entitled to exclusion pay.
  • Special Protection Measures: Special prevention rules that apply to employer-provided housing and transportation no longer apply if all occupants are vaccinated.

Because Cal/OSHA reserved the right to “refine the regulations in the coming weeks to take into account changes in circumstances, especially as related to the availability of vaccines and low case rates across the state”, we recommend that employers continue to monitor these developments closely.

Cal/OSHA convened another meeting at 5:00 p.m. PT on June 8, 2021 to consider further changes to the ETS. We will update you on any new material developments as promptly as we are able.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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