No More Face Masks or Physical Distancing for Vaccinated Employees, says Cal/OSHA

The revised COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) are here and in effect!  After what seems like a roller coaster few weeks, employers may now have some finality in the workplace with Cal/OSHA’s new update to the ETS.  The intent of the update was to bring the ETS into line with recent guidance from the California Department of Public Health based on increased vaccination numbers.  On June 17, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board adopted the revisions and Governor Newsom signed an executive order so that the revised standards could take immediate effect rather than sit through the standard 10-day review period.  

What can employers expect from the new revisions?

  • Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be offered testing or excluded from work after close contact unless they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Fully vaccinated employees do not need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where CDPH requires all persons to wear them. Employers must document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they do not wear face coverings indoors. (In other words, employers need to verify the vaccination status of workers before allowing them to remove masks at work, however a simple “self-attestation” that they are vaccinated would be allowed.)
  • Employees are not required to wear face coverings when outdoors regardless of vaccination status except for certain employees during outbreaks.
  • Employees are explicitly allowed to wear a face covering without fear of retaliation from employers.
  • Physical distancing requirements have been eliminated except where an employer determines there is a hazard and for certain employees during major outbreaks.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated may request respirators for voluntary use from their employers at no cost and without fear of retaliation from their employers.  (Employees can still wear their own face covering if they choose.)
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms must be offered testing by their employer.
  • Employer-provided housing and transportation are exempt from the regulations where all employees are fully vaccinated.
  • Employers must review the Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.
  • Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems.

Cal/OSHA has provided some useful resources for employers to stay up-to-date with the latest changes. The Cal/OSHA webpage contains an updated fact sheet and Frequently Asked Questions about proposed revisions to the emergency temporary standards. Also, the model COVID-19 Prevention Program in English and Spanish is currently being updated.

Remember, if you need assistance making your way through the ever-changing workplace due to COVID-19, McKague Rosasco LLP is here to help.

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