COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Revisions Now in Effect

After some recent back and forth on revisions to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) finally adopted the most recent revisions on June 17, 2021.

On the same day, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order so the revisions could take effect without the Office of Administrative Law’s normal 10-day review period — meaning the revised standards also took effect on June 17.

“We are grateful for the clarifications made today by Cal/OSHA and the governor on key issues with regard to eliminating mask requirements for vaccinated employees in most settings, eliminating social distancing requirements, and providing a straightforward method for employers to verify vaccination status,” CalChamber said in a statement. “These clarifications are what CalChamber advocated for and will help employers move forward and fully reopen.”

The COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard revisions include the following:

  • After close contact, fully vaccinated employees don’t need to be offered testing or excluded from work unless they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Fully vaccinated employees don’t need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) requires all persons to wear them. Employers must document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they don’t wear face coverings indoors.
  • Employees aren’t required to wear face coverings when outdoors regardless of vaccination status, except for certain employees during outbreaks.
  • Employees are explicitly allowed to wear a face covering without fear of retaliation from employers.
  • Physical distancing requirements have been eliminated except where an employer determines there’s a hazard and for certain employees during major outbreaks.
  • Employees who aren’t fully vaccinated may request respirators for voluntary use from their employers at no cost and without fear of retaliation from their employers.
  • Employees who aren’t fully vaccinated and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms must be offered testing by their employer.
  • Employer-provided housing and transportation are exempt from the regulations where all employees are fully vaccinated.
  • Employers must review the Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.
  • Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems.

To help employers understand their obligations under the revised Emergency Temporary Standards, Cal/OSHA has an updated fact sheet and Frequently Asked Questions. Cal/OSHA also is updating its model COVID-19 Prevention Program in English and Spanish, as well as information on planned webinars. Employers should keep an eye on the Emergency Temporary Standards webpage for these items.

Jessica Mulholland, Managing Editor, CalChamber

CalChamber members can read more about the COVID-19 emergency temporary standard in IIPP and COVID-19 in the HR Library. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.

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