June 8, 2021

Cal/OSHA Standards Board Readopts Revised COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards


On June 3, 2021, The Cal/OSHA Standards Board readopted Cal/OSHA’s revised COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards.

The changes adopted by the Board phase out physical distancing and make other adjustments to better align with the state’s June 15 goal to retire the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy”. The changes are expected to go into effect no later than June 15 if approved by the Office of Administrative Law in the next 10 calendar days.

Noteworthy revisions include:

  • Face Coverings – Fully vaccinated workers without COVID-19 symptoms do not need to wear face coverings in a room where everyone is fully vaccinated and not showing symptoms. Fully vaccinated and unvaccinated workers without symptoms do not need to wear face coverings outdoors except when working at “outdoor mega-events” with over 10,000 attendees, which may include events or theme parks. Indoors, all workers - regardless of vaccination status – will continue to be required to wear a face covering.
     
  • Physical Distancing – When the revised standards take effect, employers can eliminate physical distancing and partitions/barriers for employees working indoors and at outdoor mega-events if they provide respirators, such as N95s, to unvaccinated employees for voluntary use. After July 31, physical distancing and barriers are no longer required (except during breakouts), but employers must provide all unvaccinated employees with N95s for voluntary use.
     
  • Prevention Programs – Employers are still required to maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program but there are some key changes to requirements:
     
    • Employers must review the California Department of Public Health’s “Interim Guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments” which can be found by clicking here.
       
    • COVID-19 prevention training must now include information on how the vaccine is effective at preventing COVID-19 and protecting against both transmission and serious illness or death.
       
  • Exclusion from the Workplace – Fully vaccinated workers who do not have COVID-19 symptoms no longer need to be excluded from the workplace after close contact.
     
  • Special Protections for Housing and Transportation – Special COVID-19 prevention measures that apply to employer-provided housing and transportation no longer apply if the occupants are fully vaccinated.

The Standards Board also convened a representative subcommittee to work with Cal/OSHA on a proposal for further updates to the standard, as part of the emergency rulemaking process.

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by Brooke Fishel, Director of Labor Relations