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Cal/OSHA adopts revised COVID-19 workplace standards

Posted On: Jun. 18, 2021 10:24 AM CST


California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board for the second time in two weeks on Thursday adopted revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards that take into account recent guidance from the California Department of Public Health.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Thursday enabling the revisions to take effect without the normal 10-day review period by the Office of Administrative Law.

The California Department of Industrial Relations said in a statement Thursday that the changes provide “clarity and consistency for employers and employees as California fully reopens its economy.”

The revised standards took effect immediately and include rules that fully vaccinated employees do not need to be offered testing or excluded from work after close contact unless they have COVID-19 symptoms. They also do not need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where the state Department of Public Health requires all persons to wear them.

Face coverings — which the previous revision stated were required in most circumstances — are heavily addressed in the revisions, including that employees are now not required to wear face coverings when outdoors regardless of vaccination status, except for certain employees during outbreaks.

Workers are also explicitly allowed to wear a face covering without fear of retaliation from employers. Employees who are not fully vaccinated may request respirators for voluntary use from their employers at no cost and without fear of retaliation from their employers, according to the new rules.

The revisions also eliminate physical distancing requirements, except where an employer determines there is a hazard and for certain employees during major outbreaks. They further exempt employer-provided housing and transportation from the regulations where all employees are fully vaccinated.

The new revisions also state that employers must document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they do not wear face coverings indoors.

On testing, the revisions state that employers must offer COVID-19 testing to employees who are not fully vaccinated and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.

Employers must also review state ventilation requirements and evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency and evaluate the use of additional air-cleaning systems.

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here