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Cal/OSHA revises COVID prevention rules

Posted On: Dec. 21, 2021 11:23 AM CST


The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board on Friday adopted revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards to include the latest recommendations from the California Department of Public Health.

The updated guidance includes revisions on investigating and responding to COVID-19 cases in the workplace, face coverings, testing and exclusion, and return to work criteria.

Per OSHA guidelines, employers must continue to properly notify employees, employee representatives and any other workers at a worksite of possible COVID-19 exposures within one business day. This section was updated to give employers more clear instructions on how to notify workers who were at the same worksite as the COVID-19 case during the high-risk exposure period, Cal/OSHA said.

The rules on face coverings was also updated to include more detail on the different types of acceptable masks. Employees who are exempted from wearing a face-covering due to a medical or mental health condition, or disability and cannot wear a non-restrictive alternative must physically distance at least six feet from others and either be fully vaccinated or tested at least weekly.

Testing and exclusion revisions were made to make the ETS consistent with current CDPH recommendations, Cal/OSHA said. Employers are now required to make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during paid time to employees who were fully vaccinated before the “close contact” with a COVID-19 case occurred, even if they are asymptomatic.

During outbreaks and major outbreaks, employers must now make weekly testing or twice-weekly testing available to asymptomatic fully vaccinated employees in the exposed group.

The emergency standards take effect on Jan. 14, 2022, and apply to most workers in California not covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard.