California has stated that it plans to fully reopen the economy on June 15th. Despite much fanfare and speculation, there has been little information released about what “fully reopening the economy” looks like. Employers have been left in the dark even as June 15th quickly approaches. The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board added to this uncertainty by withdrawing the proposed revisions to the Emergency Temporary Standards that were scheduled to go into effect on June 15th.
Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards
On June 3rd, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted Cal/OSHA’s revised COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) following a lengthy and contentious debate. These revisions were scheduled to go into effect on June 15th to align with California’s plan to open the economy.
However, the Board reversed course on June 9th, voting unanimously to withdraw the revised standards that were passed just six days earlier. The vote was prompted by concerns over the contrast between the mask rule in the revised standards and those released in a recent California Department of Public Health guidance. The Board could consider new revisions at a future meeting, perhaps as early as the regular meeting on June 17th.
As it currently stands, the existing Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards will remain in place on June 15th. This means that despite whatever the June 15th re-opening plan looks like, workplace rules for employees remain the same as they relate to COVID-19.
Accordingly, regardless of what is said by the California Department of Public Health or others about what “businesses” may or may not do, as Employers, you must continue to follow Cal-OSHA regulations until further notice. For example, all employees, whether vaccinated or not, will need to continue to wear face coverings and current physical distancing requirements will remain in effect.
The highly anticipated easing of many COVID-19 restrictions is currently on pause pending revisions to Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards. Employers should monitor the status of the Emergency Temporary Standards and hold off on lifting many of their COVID-19 restrictions until the Standards are revised.
We will continue to monitor major COVID-19 related developments that impact the workplace. If you have any questions about the matters discussed in this issue of Compliance Matters, please call your firm contact at 818-508-3700 or visit us online at www.brgslaw.com.
Richard S. Rosenberg
Katherine A. Hren
Charles H.W. Foster
Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt, LLP