After two failed attempts, Cal/OSHA has revised their Emergency Temporary Standards ("ETS"), and we hope this sticks for a while. As we know, California officially reopened on June 15th, for the most part dropping mask mandates, removing social distancing requirements, and removing capacity limits. Cal/OSHA approved updated ETS guidance yesterday, more in line with the CDC and California Department of Public Health ("CDPH") guidance. Governor Newsom signed an executive order yesterday, enabling the approved revisions to take effect immediately.
What You Need to Do Now and Communicate to Employees
· Fully vaccinated employees are no longer required to wear face coverings, inside or outside, unless there is an outbreak or they work in specific industries* where CDPH requires them.
· Employers must allow fully vaccinated employees to wear face coverings if they choose to wear them - without fear of retaliation.
· Employees who are not vaccinated must continue to wear face coverings indoors and in vehicles while with others. There are exceptions including when alone in a room or vehicle, when eating and drinking, when an accommodation is required, and when job duties make a face covering infeasible or create a hazard.
*As of June 15, these new guidelines do not apply to public transit, K-12 education facilities, healthcare, and long-term care settings, where masks are still required.
Employers Must Provide N95 Respirators Upon Request
· Upon request, employers must provide N95 respirators to all employees who are not fully vaccinated when working indoors or in a vehicle.
· The respirator must be of the right size, and the employee must receive basic instruction on how to get a good “seal” or fit.
· Employers should plan to have the inventory of N95 respirators on hand.
Employers Must Document Vaccination Status
· Employers will need to document employees' fully vaccinated status to take advantage of the new relaxed rules. Fully vaccinated status is defined as the employee has received the final dose of the vaccine at least 14 days prior.
· The options for tracking vaccine status are:
- Employers can ask for a copy of the record showing proof of completed vaccination.
- Employers can view the record showing proof of vaccination and create a record of employees who showed evidence of vaccination.
- Employees can self-attest to full vaccination status, and employers will maintain a record of who self-attested.
If an employee refuses to disclose vaccination status, the employer must treat that employee as unvaccinated and must not discriminate against them. As with all employee personal health information, the vaccine status must be kept confidential and filed in the employee’s separate medical file.
· Physical distancing is no longer required unless there is a major COVID-19 outbreak. An "outbreak" is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in 14 days. A "major COVID-19 outbreak" is 20 or more COVID-19 cases in 30 days.
· Employers may continue to voluntarily impose physical distance measures in the workplace, including barriers or shields.
Exclusion of Exposed Employees
· Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be tested or quarantined after close contact with COVID-19 cases unless they have symptoms.
COVID-19 Testing for Employees
· Employers must provide COVID-19 testing at no cost to employees showing COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of whether there is a known exposure. Testing must be available during the employees' scheduled work hours.
As one of the Board members said today in the meeting, "we are all tired of this pandemic, but the pandemic is not over." It is safe to say that while Cal/OSHA is loosening up the rules, the Emergency Temporary Standards have been revised, not revoked.
Many of the ETS requirements remain in place, including:
· Maintaining an effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program (“CPP”);
· Providing effective training to employees on the CPP and their rights under the ETS;
· Providing notification to public health departments of outbreaks;
· Providing notification to employees of exposure and close contacts;
· Offering testing after potential exposures;
· Responding to COVID-19 cases and outbreaks; and
· Quarantine and exclusion pay requirements.
Cal/OSHA posted more detailed FAQs regarding the changes to the ETS here.
Contact us to create or update your COVID-19 Prevention Plan as we must continue to keep our employees safe.
If you have questions, please reach out to our team.