[[ORIGINAL POST 6.8.2021]] Cal/OSHA continued its burlesque impersonation of a 6-year-old child at an ice cream shop this past week. Originally, on May 7th, the state bureaucracy unveiled proposed changes to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”). However, shortly thereafter, Cal/OSHA announced that it was tabling its final vote on the revisions; and instead, was scheduling an “emergency” meeting for June 3rd because the proposed changes were not in-line with the guidelines of the California Department of Public Health and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). Click here to read on – blog posted June 8, 2021….
[[FIRST UPDATE 6.9.2021]] After this blog was originally posted, Cal/OSHA had yet another “emergency” meeting on June 9, 2021, this time unanimously voting NOT to adopt the proposed new revisions to its regulations. Mind you, this is the same Cal/OSHA who unanimously voted TO adopt the revisions just a few days ago – and no new guidance from the CDC or public health officials has occurred in the interim – Click here to read on – blog posted June 10, 2021…
[[SECOND UPDATE 6.17.2021]] As all parents experience when their child finally, finally decides on the flavor of their ice cream after an hour-long stream of fits and stops, and the confectioner scoops the unnaturally colored dollop of creamy, sugary goodness into an even more sugary cornet of waffled bliss, a wave of exhausted joy filled the countryside yesterday as Cal/OSHA heralded the approval of its revised COVID-19 regulations. Shortly thereafter, riding his white steed, in meticulously polished armor, Governor Newsom signed an executive order permitting the regulations to take effect immediately (or, as soon as they are filed with the California Secretary of State’s office), as opposed to coming into effect after the standard 10-day waiting period. In short, by the time you read this, the new revisions are likely the law of the land.
While the new regulations still require the use of masks for unvaccinated workers, a host of changes were made to the overly burdensome regulations that have plagued employers for the past several months. The 30 pages of revised regulations can be found here. A few of the highlights:
- Physical distancing is no longer required.
- A “fully vaccinated” employee does not have to wear a face covering except during “outbreaks” (i.e., 20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees).
- A “fully vaccinated” employee is one in which “the employer has documented that the person received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines must be FDA approved; have an emergency use authorization from the FDA; or, for persons fully vaccinated outside the United States, be listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO).”
- In addition, to the revised regulations, Cal/OSHA has also updated its FAQ webpage. The updated page provides that “documentation” of an employee’s “fully vaccinated” status can take the form of the following:
- Employees provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care document showing vaccination status) and employer maintains a copy; or
- Employees provide proof of vaccination. The employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself; or
- Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.
- An employee who is not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a face covering; however, only while indoors or in vehicles. Even then, an employee who is not fully vaccinated need not wear a face covering in the following situations:
- When an employee is alone in a room or vehicle.
- While eating or drinking, provided the employee is at least six feet apart from any other person and outside air supply to the area has been maximized to the extent feasible.
- When an employee cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition or disability.
- When an employee is hearing impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person.
- When an employee is performing a task, which cannot feasibly be performed with a face covering (but only while the employee is actually performing that task.)
- Scarfs, ski masks, balaclavas, bandanas, turtlenecks, collars, and single layers of fabric do not suffice as “face coverings.”
- Employers must provide N-95 masks or other forms of respirators upon request to employees who are not fully vaccinated and who are working indoors or in vehicles with more than one person.
- Exposures are determined based upon an “exposed group,” rather than an “exposed workplace.” An “exposed group” is “all employees at a work location, working area, or a common area at work, where an employee COVID-19 case was present at any time during the high-risk exposure period.”
- Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be tested or quarantined after close contact with a COVID-19 case unless they have symptoms of the illness.
- Employers must make COVID-19 testing available at no cost during paid time to any employee who had close contact with a COVID-19 case unless the employee (1) was fully vaccinated prior to the close contact and has remained free of symptoms; or (2) was previously himself/herself a COVID-19 case but has since returned to work and has remained symptom free for 90 days.
The preceding is merely a general summary of some the requirements found in the revised Cal/OSHA regulations. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Holden Law Group to discuss.