ALERT: Cal/OSHA Releases Much-Needed Guidance Through Frequently Asked Questions

By: Rebecca R. Schach

Last week Cal/OSHA updated the agency Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on its COVID Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). The FAQs address all components of the Emergency Temporary Standards. Although we would encourage employers to review all the FAQs carefully, these FAQs provided some clarity in the fog that we have seen in the past weeks:

  1. Q: Once an employee is vaccinated, must the ETS still be followed for vaccinated persons?

A: For now, all prevention measures must continue to be implemented. The impact of vaccines will likely be addressed in a future revision to the ETS.

  1. Q: What is an “exposed workplace” and how should an employer determine which work areas are included?

A: An exposed workplace is a work location, working area, or common area used or accessed by a COVID-19 case during the high-risk period, including bathrooms, walkways, hallways, aisles, break or eating areas, and waiting areas. If, within 14 days, three COVID-19 cases share the same “exposed workplace,” then the Multiple COVID-19 Infections and COVID-19 Outbreaks standard (section 3205.1) applies and additional testing will be required. When determining which areas constitute a single “exposed workplace” for purposes of enforcing testing requirements, Cal/OSHA does not expect employers to treat areas where masked workers momentarily pass through the same space without interacting or congregating as an “exposed workplace,” so they may focus on locations where transmission is more likely.

  1. Q: For employers who have several non-overlapping work shifts at a facility, can each shift be considered as a separate “exposed workplace”, as defined by the ETS?

A: If the facility is well ventilated and the cleaning and disinfection requirements of the ETS are met between or before shift changes, each shift may be considered as a separate “exposed workplace.”

Employers can access the entire list of FAQs here.


Although litigation is pending, the Cal/OSHA COVID Emergency Temporary Standards are currently in effect. Employers should utilize the Cal/OSHA resources to update the Company’s IIPP, if not done already, and work through scenarios for Multiple and Major Outbreak Protocols with management and supervisors. If you have questions about the Cal/OSHA COVID Emergency Temporary Standards or how to prepare your team for an Outbreak, contact the experts at the Saqui Law Group.

Disclaimer: The goal of this article is to provide employers with current labor and employment law information. The contents should neither be interpreted as, nor construed as legal advice or opinion. The reader should consult with The Saqui Law Group at (916) 782-8555 or for individual responses to questions or concerns regarding any given situation

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