New Cal/OSHA COVID Regulation Could Become Effective this Week

Governor Newsom will sign an Executive Order on Thursday to codify a new COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard.

Cal/OSHA has published new revisions to the current Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The Cal/OSHA Standards Board is scheduled to expected the revisions at its meeting this Thursday, June 17th. Once the revised ETS is adopted by the Board, it will go to the Office of Administrative Law for approval and become effective 10 days later. Under this process, the new ETS would be in effect starting June 28, 2021.

Today, however, the Governor announced that he intends to sign an executive order on Thursday following the Cal/OSHA Standards Board meeting to immediately codify the new ETS, making it effective as early as Friday, June 18.

Key changes to the ETS are:

  • Employees who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear face coverings even if unvaccinated coworkers are among them.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear face coverings while working indoors or in vehicles.
  • Employers are required to document that an employee is vaccinated. (Under the prior version, employer were required to have “documentation showing” that the employee is vaccinated.)
  • Physical distancing requirements have been removed, including in residential housing units and transportation.
  • Upon request of an employee, an employer must provide an N-95 mask. (Under the prior version, employers were required to offer this type of mask to employees regardless of whether the employee wanted the mask or not.)
  • Partitions must be maintained until July 31st for employees working indoors or at mega events, and employers must “evaluate whether to” re-institute physical distancing and re-install partitions if an outbreak occurs.
  • Employer-provided housing requirements are completely exempted where all residents are fully vaccinated.
  • In employer-provided transportation, employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear a face covering.
  • The Standards Board has appointed 3 of its members to work with Cal/OSHA staff on further changes, and if COVID remains under control, the entire emergency standard could be rescinded.
  • Until the new ETS is formally approved and in effect, employers should continue to implement the original ETS that was approved in November 2020.

Cal/OSHA is expected to publish FAQs shortly after the new ETS is approved and/or goes into effect. The new revised ETS, dated June 11, can be found here.

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