Cal/OSHA Approves Revisions to COVID-19 Workplace Standards

by Sonya Goodwin

As predicted, Cal/OSHA approved revisions to the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) on June 17, and Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order to make the amended ETS effective as soon as it is filed with the Secretary of State. A few of the changes are highlighted below:

  • Mask Requirements:
    • Vaccinated employees do not have to wear face coverings except when required by the California Department of Public Health – examples include public transit, K-12 educational facilities, health care and long-term care settings, correctional and detention facilities, and homeless shelters. 
    • Unvaccinated employees must wear face coverings indoors or in vehicles. Employers must still provide the face coverings or cover the costs. Exceptions to wearing face coverings indoors include (1) when alone in a room or vehicle; (2) when eating and drinking, but only if physical distancing (6 feet apart) can be maintained and outside air has been maximized to the extent feasible; (3) when an accommodation is required; (4) when job duties make a face covering infeasible or create a hazard
    • Employees may wear a face covering even when not required to do so, and are protected from retaliation. 
  • Vaccination Status:
    • Employers must document vaccination status for any employee not wearing a face covering indoors and the records must be kept confidential. The proposed revisions do not specify how an employer can ask or maintain vaccination status, but some acceptable options in Cal/OSHA’s FAQ include:
      • Employees can provide proof of vaccination and employer maintains a copy.
      • Employees can provide proof of vaccination and employer maintains a record of who provides proof, but not a copy of the vaccine record itself.
      • Employees can self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.
    • Employees who refuse to provide vaccination status are to be considered unvaccinated.
    • Employers may require all employees to wear a face covering instead of having to document vaccination status.
  • Testing:
    • Employers must provide testing requirements at no cost to employees during paid time to:
      • Symptomatic unvaccinated employees, regardless of whether there is a known exposure (note that this is a new requirement).
      • Unvaccinated employees after an exposure.
      • Vaccinated employees after an exposure if they develop symptoms.
      • Unvaccinated employees in an outbreak.
      • All employees in a major outbreak.

As always, if you have any questions about workplace safety issues and COVID-19 requirements, please contact us.