The Latest on Cal/OSHA Regulations & CA’s Reopening Status

Workers at desks

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board adopted revisions to the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) during its June 17 meeting. Following the Cal/OSHA Standards Board vote, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to allow the revisions to immediately take effect on June 17.

The revised standards align with the latest guidance from the California Department of Public Heath (CDPH), and they are consistent with the most recent guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Governor Newsom’s June 15 reopening plan discussed below.

Some key takeaways of the revised ETS are:

Modifies the definition of “fully vaccinated” — “Fully vaccinated” is described as a person who received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

Workplace exclusion requirement relaxed — Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be tested or excluded from the workplace after close contacts with an infected person unless they become symptomatic.

Physical distancing requirement removed — Physical distancing requirements have been eliminated except where an employer determines there is a hazard and for certain employees during major outbreaks.

Face masks for vaccinated/unvaccinated employees — Fully vaccinated employees are no longer required to wear face coverings indoors except in limited situations during outbreaks, subject to employers documenting their vaccination status. For unvaccinated employees, masks will still be required while indoors and in vehicles with others, subject to certain exceptions (e.g., alone in a room, or eating or drinking while maintaining physical distancing, while wearing an N95 respirator, etc.). No masks are required outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. However, while the revised ETS have relaxed face covering mandates, employers should note that the revised ETS requires employers to develop policies and procedures to minimize employee exposure to COVID-19 hazards originating from any person not wearing a face covering, including members of the public. Fully vaccinated employees may still choose to wear face coverings without fear of retaliation.

N95 respirators for unvaccinated employees — Employers must provide unvaccinated employees with N95 respirators for their voluntary use when working indoors or in a vehicle with others upon request, at no cost and without fear of retaliation.

Documentation of vaccination — Vaccination status must now be documented. Acceptable options include:

  • Employees providing proof of vaccination (i.e., vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care documentation showing vaccination status), and employer retains a copy.
  • Employees providing proof of vaccination. The employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself.
  • Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record.

Employers must still have a written COVID-19 Prevention Program in place and provide effective training and instruction. More information on the revised ETS can be found in Cal/OSHA's updated Frequently Asked Questions and Fact Sheet.

CA Reopening: State’s Current Status
Earlier this week, Governor Newsom issued an executive order to reopen the state of California effective June 15. In addition, the Governor also rolled back additional pandemic order provisions that were put in place since March 2020 in relation to the stay-at-home order and the color-coded county tier system.

Restrictions eliminated — As of June 15, the following restrictions have been eliminated for the public:

  • Physical distancing.
  • Capacity limits.
  • County tier system.
  • Mask requirements for fully vaccinated individuals, except in limited settings, such as on public transit.

Mask guidance — Additionally, the CDPH released an updated guidance for face coverings. Specifically, in settings where masks are required only for unvaccinated individuals, the guidance states that public-facing businesses may choose to:

  • Provide information on vaccination requirements while enabling fully vaccinated individuals to self-attest to vaccination status prior to entry.
  • Implement a vaccine verification system to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.
  • Require all patrons to wear masks.

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