The Cal/OSHA Standards Board declared Nov. 17 that there will be no further modifications made to the proposed non-emergency COVID-19 standard that’s due to be voted on Dec. 15.
This marks the end of some uncertainty brought about after the initial publication of the proposed non-emergency standard that had concerned both employers and workers, according to law firm Littler Mendelson.
Those concerns from employers and labor representatives led to modifications of the proposed standard in October.
Employers can take steps for compliance now
This means employers can now “take steps to prepare for compliance with the non-emergency regulation without wondering whether the provisions will change yet again.”
Littler Mendelson found the non-emergency standard is somewhat less burdensome for employers than the current emergency temporary standard (ETS). For example, the final version of the non-emergency standard:
- doesn’t contain the ETS provisions requiring employers to provide exclusion pay to employees who are required to be excluded from work due to having COVID-19
- eliminates an employer’s obligation to provide COVID-19 testing at no cost for employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms but didn’t have a close contact in the workplace
- permits employers to address COVID-19 workplace measures within their existing Injury and Illness Prevention Plans, and
- permits employers to exit from outbreak procedures when there is one or no new COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period.
More rigorous in regard to ventilation
However, the non-emergency standard is a little more rigorous when it comes to ventilation, requiring employers to:
- maximize the supply of outside air
- employ the highest level of filtration efficiency compatible with existing mechanical ventilation systems, or
- use HEPA filtration units.
The non-emergency standard will become effective when the ETS expires on January 1, 2023, and will remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2024.