New Cal/OSHA Guidelines for Employers

Following the June 17 vote by osha,
revised health and safety standards for employers took effect.

Important Changes You Should Know
For Covid Workplace Compliance.

Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees not to wear face coverings indoors, but must document their vaccination status.

Vaccination status must be documented in order for a fully-vaccinated employee to not wear a mask indoors. This must be kept confidential.

Acceptable options include: Employees provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care document showing vaccination status) and employer maintains a copy.  The employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself. Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests. Nothing in the revised ETS prevents an employer from requiring all employees to wear a face covering instead of having a documentation process.

Under the ETS, an employer is not obligated to require employees to submit proof of being fully vaccinated. Absent such a requirement, an employee has the right to decline to state if they are vaccinated or not. In that case, the employer must treat the employee as unvaccinated and must not take disciplinary or discriminatory action against the employee.

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Employers Must Provide NIOSH-Approved Particulate Filtering Respirators 

An employer must provide respirators in two scenarios:
(1) to any unvaccinated employee who works with others indoors or in a vehicle and who requests one and
(2) where there is a major outbreak, to any employees in the exposed group for voluntary use. The respirator must be the right size, and the employee must receive basic instruction on how to get a good “seal,” or fit.

Once an employer has established that it has employees who wish to wear respirators, it should have enough on hand of the correct size and type to fulfill reasonably foreseeable requests upon demand. If an employee prefers to select and purchase their own respirator, an employer may permit this alternative, as long as the employer reimburses the employee in a timely manner. In a major outbreak, respirators must be offered to employees regardless of vaccination status and without waiting for a request from the employee. The employer must offer respirators immediately upon determining a major outbreak is underway. An employer is under a continuing obligation to provide respirators to eligible unvaccinated employees at any time they communicate to the employer their desire to wear one.

Employers must offer testing at no cost to employees during paid time to:

- Symptomatic unvaccinated employees, regardless of whether there is a known exposure.
 - 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.

Other Important Changes for Employers to Know

  • Fully vaccinated employees without symptoms do not need to be tested or quarantined after close contacts with COVID-19 cases unless they have symptoms.
  • No face covering requirements outdoors (except during outbreaks), regardless of vaccination status, though workers must be trained on CDPH recommendations for outdoor use of face coverings.
  • Employers may not retaliate against employees for wearing face coverings.
  • No physical distancing or barrier requirements regardless of employee vaccination status with the following exceptions: 1) Employers must evaluate whether it is necessary to implement physical distancing and barriers during an outbreak (3 or more cases in an exposed group of employees) 2) Employers must implement physical distancing and barriers during a major outbreak (20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)
  • No physical distancing requirements whatsoever in the employer-provided housing and transportation regulations.
  • Where all employees are vaccinated in employer-provided housing and transportation, employers are exempt from those regulations 
  • Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtrations efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems

What Will Remain in place from the November 2020 eTS?

  • Employers must have an effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program.
  • Employers must provide effective training and instruction to employees on the employer’s prevention plan and their rights under the ETS.
  • Employers must provide notification to public health departments of outbreaks.
  • Employers must provide notification to employees of exposure and close contacts.
  • Requirements to offer testing after potential exposures.
  • Requirements for responding to COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.
  • Quarantine and exclusion pay requirements.
  • Basic prevention requirements for employer-provided housing and transportation.

The ETS applies to all employers, employees, and to all places of employment with the following exceptions: Work locations where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people. Employees who are working from home. Employees who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation. Employees working from a location chosen by the employee, which is not under the control of the employer (for instance, an employee teleworking from a café or a friend’s home)


This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, the Act’s General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.For the full requirements, see title 8 sections 3205, 3205.1, 3205.2, 3205.3, 3205.

RESOURCES:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/Revisions-FAQ.html#whatchanged
https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/5144.html
https://saferatwork.covid19.ca.gov/employers/#emergency-temporary-standards
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/N95list1sect2-m.html
https://www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/documents/Jun172021-COVID-19-Prevention-Emergency-apprvdtxt-Readoption.pdf

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