New Workplace Rules from Cal/Osha

The Cal/OSHA Standards Board drafted a new set of regulations that will require most indoor workers, including those who have been vaccinated, to wear face masks at work if any other worker onsite is not vaccinated. The rules are out of step with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and the Governor's own directive to re-open the state on June 15. 
The California Chamber of Commerce has stated that, "the rules adopted yesterday mean some big changes and big questions for employers. Businesses should consult with counsel as soon as possible, because the changes (some of which were made public less than a week ago) will go into effect around June 14, and the second round of changes will go into effect on July 31."   

Below is a list of some of the most relevant changes:
  • Vaccinations and documentation: the amended emergency temporary standard (ETS) allows different precautions for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, starting as soon as it goes into effect, and becoming even more significant after July 31. However, there remain questions on how employers should document their workers vaccination status feasibly while respecting those employees privacy. Cal/OSHA has promised clarification on this point via FAQs. (On a related note, EEOC also released new guidance on employers' ability to compel vaccination on May 28—available here).
  • Businesses will not see changing obligations for their workers on June 15. The amended ETS will go into effect just before June 15, but masking and social distancing requirements will remain in effect for most workers until July 31.
  • N95's will need to be provided for unvaccinated employees: After July 31, employers will need to make available for voluntary use N95 respirators for each unvaccinated employee, and those N95s will need to be the proper size. That means employers will need to have N95 respirators on hand if they have any unvaccinated, indoor employees after July 31.
  • New verbal notice requirements: For employers dealing with employees who may have “limited literacy,” the amended ETS includes some vague obligations to provide verbal notice of outbreaks, which will likely affect certain industries more than others.
On the positive side, employers will also see some relaxing in other areas. Outbreaks will be triggered only among employees only, meaning customers massing through the workplace will not trigger outbreak protocols. Similarly, after July 31, social distancing requirements in the workplace will end for all workplaces. Also, outdoor and vaccinated workers will see loosening once employers have documentation of vaccination.  We'll continue to keep you updated in the coming weeks when the Governor's June 15 plan is released.


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