Cal/OSHA Proposes Changes to Temp Order
On Nov. 30, 2020, California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, more commonly known as Cal/OSHA, adopted COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for California. Among other topics, the ETS required that employers develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program and provided guidance on how employers should address COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in the workplace. Since Cal/OSHA issued its ETS, the California workplace landscape has changed dramatically, with large-scale vaccinations for all ages and employees returning to work across the state.
On May 7, Cal/OSHA submitted significant proposed revisions to the ETS, which the Cal/OSHA Standards Board will consider at its May 20 meeting. The proposed revisions include changes across almost the entire ETS regulatory landscape, including the following:
- Updating its definition of "place of employment" to clarify that the ETS does not apply to employees teleworking from a remote location of their choice.
- Clarifying its "close contact" definition to exclude those who are wearing a respirator under a respiratory protection program.
- Shifting from a focus on an "exposed workplace" to defining employees as an "exposed group" of workers at a work location, working area, or common area at which a COVID-19 case was present during the high-risk exposure period. The proposed revisions also exclude from this definition workers who are not present at the same time, have no overlap in the workplace, or momentarily pass through an area, as well as clarify what constitutes 15 minutes together when wearing face coverings.
- Tightening up the definition of "face covering" to specifically exclude "a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, turtleneck, collar, or single layer of fabric."
- Defining "fully vaccinated" as documentation that evidences that the person received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single dose COVID-19 vaccine.
- Creating a duty to provide COVID-19 exposure notices when they know or should know about a COVID-19 case, which is a new distinction. The draft proposal mandates written exposure notices that must include information required by California Labor Code Section 6409.6. Additionally, the proposed revisions require employers to provide verbal notice in a language understandable to the employee if they believe the employee has not received the notice. The requirement to notify independent contractors and other employers of a possible COVID-19 exposure remains unchanged.
- Introducing a new training requirement for vaccine information.
- Substantially changing physical distancing requirements to allow work locations with fully vaccinated employees to cease physical distancing.
- Relieving employers from excluding fully vaccinated employees from the workplace after "close contact" with other individuals and from testing vaccinated employees during an outbreak.
Read the whole article at SHRM