California adopted a revised COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) June 17 based on guidance received from the state’s Department of Public Health and the increased number of vaccinated individuals.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order enabling these new revisions to take effect immediately, without having to wait out the normal 10-day review period.
State of confusion
According to law firm Baker McKenzie, this comes after a period of waffling by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, with the board:
- approving the amendments June 3 after first saying they wouldn’t do so in the same meeting
- reversing the approval June 9
- releasing new proposed amendments June 13, and
- finally approving the new, new amendments June 17.
To add to the confusion, Cal/OSHA issued guidance based on the final revisions of the ETS June 15, before the board voted adopt them.
But after all the drama, the revised ETS is officially approved and in effect as of June 17.
- Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be offered testing or excluded from work after close contact unless they have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Fully vaccinated employees do not need to wear masks except in certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where health officials require everyone to wear them. However, employers must document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees, if they’re not wearing masks indoors.
- Employees do not have to wear masks outdoors regardless of vaccination status except for certain employees during outbreaks.
- Employees are explicitly allowed to wear masks without fear of retaliation from employers.
- Physical distancing requirements have been eliminated except where an employer determines there is 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 are not fully vaccinated and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms must be offered testing by their employer.
- 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.
Where to find guidance
Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS webpage has an updated fact sheet and frequently asked questions document regarding the revisions.
The state agency is also updating its model COVID-19 Prevention Program in English and Spanish and is planning to provide further information via webinars hosted by its Consultation Services Branch.