In its third change in as many weeks, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, the standard-setting agency within Cal/OSHA, approved revisions to the November 30, 2020 emergency COVID-19 prevention standards. Per an Executive Order signed by Governor Newsom on the same day, these revisions are not subject to a 10-day review period by the Office of Administrative Law, and go into effect immediately. These revisions come after Cal/OSHA approved a different set of revisions on June 3 and withdrew those on June 9.
The revisions bring the emergency standards in line with recent guidance from the California Department of Public Health, eliminating capacity limitations and following CDC guidance on face coverings. The newly approved revisions update the definition of “fully vaccinated” to require that “the employer has documented” that the employee is at least 14-days past their second or single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. Employees who have not provided documentation of their vaccinated status must be treated as if unvaccinated for the purposes of the emergency standard.
Key aspects of the revised standards are:
A key consideration is how employers will comply with the new requirement to document employee vaccination. Under the revised standards, employers are required to document if an employee is fully vaccinated. The Frequently Asked Questions identify three possible approaches for documentation:
(1) Employees provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care document showing vaccination status) and employer maintains a copy.
(2) Employees provide proof of vaccination. The employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself.
(3) Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.
Employers may also continue to require face coverings for all employees, instead of documenting employee vaccination.
As was the case under the previous, repealed revision, the new standard maintains the requirement that an employer must provide verbal notice to the employee in a language the employee understands, if an employer reasonably should know that an employee has not received the notice of a positive COVID-19 case, or if the employee has limited literacy in the language of the notice.
Updated Frequently Asked Questions are available, reflecting the revisions to the emergency temporary standard. Cal/OSHA is currently working to update its model COVID-19 Prevention Program document, as employers must continue to maintain such a Program.