On June 3, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board adopted an updated version of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that phased out certain face covering and physical distancing requirements found in the November 30, 2020 version of the ETS, and implemented additional requirements for California employers. The goal of the June 3 revisions was an attempt to align the ETS more closely with recent guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), given CDPH’s fast-approaching June 15, 2021 repeal of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The revised standards were expected to go into effect on June 15, pending Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approval.
In the evening of June 9, 2021, however, the Board held a special meeting to discuss recent guidance on face coverings and social distancing it received from CDPH on June 7. CDPH’s guidance takes into account the high rate of fully vaccinated adult Californians as well as the low number of COVID-19 cases in the state. After discussing the updated guidance, receiving public comment, and fielding questions from its own members, the Board voted unanimously to withdraw the revised ETS that it had recently approved. The vote stopped the revised ETS from progressing to the OAL, where it was set to undergo the standard maximum 10-day review period.
What is Next?
The June 9 meeting reversed the changes implemented last week that were set to take effect on June 15. It is expected that minor changes will be made to the ETS, which will be resubmitted to the Board for a vote that will likely occur at its upcoming meeting on June 17. In the meantime, the original version of the ETS approved on November 30 continues to remain in effect until the Board votes on any new text. If the Board adopts the next round of proposed changes, OAL will have up to 10 days to review the newly revised and readopted version of the ETS. The amended ETS will go into effect on or around June 28, but not later.