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Cal/OSHA Releases Guidance on New COVID-19 ETS Impacting Employers and Workers
Tuesday, May 24, 2022

On May 7, 2022, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“Cal/OSHA”) released guidance, in the form of updated FAQs and fact sheets, concerning the revised COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) that were adopted on April 21, 2022, and became effective on May 6, 2022.  This ETS applies to non-remote workers in California, except those who work alone and those covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard, and will remain in effect until December 31, 2022. 

Cal/OSHA’s recently issued guidance provides additional insight into the new revisions to the ETS, but primarily serves to reiterate the updated requirements.  Cal/OSHA’s guidance highlights the following notable deletions made since the prior ETS:

  • The definition of “fully vaccinated” has been deleted as the term is no longer used in the updated ETS.  Consequently, all protections and requirements under this ETS now apply equally to employees regardless of vaccination status.

  • The previous workplace cleaning and disinfecting requirements were removed from the revised ETS.

  • The requirements for exclusion of employees after close contact with someone with COVID-19 have also been removed from the ETS.  Instead, the California Department of Public Health’s (“CDPH”) rules in this area will control and employers should follow that guidance, which does not recommend quarantine except for exposed unvaccinated/partially vaccinated employees in high risk settings. 

  • There is no longer any requirement for employers to document the vaccination status of their employees, but employers may do so and employers who operate in high risk settings should do so in order to comply with CDPH quarantine guidance. 

  • The prior requirement of utilizing partitions or barriers to reduce COVID-19 transmissions during regular and major outbreaks in the workplace has been removed.

  • With regard to employer-provided housing, exceptions for vaccinated and recently recovered residents were removed, as were the cleaning and disinfecting requirements.

  • With regard to employer-provided transportation, the exception for fully vaccinated employees has been removed, as were the prior cleaning and disinfecting requirements.  Additionally, the face covering requirement has been deleted and employers will now need to comply with the CDPH’s guidance on face coverings in vehicles instead.

Employers should review their policies to ensure compliance with the revised ETS, as explained through the guidance.  In addition to the ETS, employers must also continue to monitor local, state, and federal health departments for further changes to COVID-19 health and safety requirements.  Particular attention must be given to the public health orders from the CDPH as they are incorporated by reference in the ETS.

The revised ETS and Cal/OSHA’s updated guidance on it can be reviewed in full here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/ETS.html.

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