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New Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Standards

The Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board, a seven-member body appointed by the Governor, is the standards-setting agency within the Cal/OSHA program. Over the past month, the Standard Board passed new proposed amendments to Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”). Then, on June 17, 2021, the Standards Board voted adopt a new ETS, which the Governor Newsom immediately signed as an Executive Order. to make the revised standard effective immediately, and align with the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the state’s health department.

The New ETS Rules

The highlights include the following items:

Face Coverings

  • Where an employer has “documentation” confirming that an employee is fully vaccinated, the employee can go without a face covering in most circumstances.
      • No specific form of documentation of vaccination is required. Acceptable options include:
        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 show proof of vaccination to the employer, similar to the way an employee may show identification for I-9 purposes or
        3. Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.
      • Whatever method the employer chooses to accept as proof of vaccination, the employer must make a record of vaccination status and keep such records confidential.
        • Face coverings are still required indoors and in vehicles for employees who are not fully vaccinated.
        • Face coverings are not required outdoors (except during outbreaks when physical distancing cannot be maintained).
        • Employers must provide face coverings to employees who are not fully vaccinated.
        • Employers must remind their employees that employees may wear face coverings at work regardless of vaccination status, without fear of retaliation.

COVID-19 Testing

  • Employers will not need to test fully vaccinated or naturally immune employees who are part of an exposed group in an outbreak, or who have had a close contact at work with a COVID-19 case, unless they have symptoms.
  • Employers must provide testing for all employees in an exposed group during “major” outbreaks, regardless of vaccination or symptom status.
  • Employers must provide free testing during paid working time to all employees who are not fully vaccinated who are symptomatic, regardless of any potential work-related exposure.

Physical Distancing

  • Cal/OSHA’s previous requirements involving physical distancing or barriers have been eliminated, except where there’s a “major” outbreak or an employee is not wearing a face covering as a reasonable accommodation.

Workplace Solutions

In light of Cal/OSHA’s revised ETS, employers must reevaluate their current COVID-19 policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the new requirements.

A copy of the revised ETS can be found at the following link: https://bit.ly/3gMD9qh.

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