Cal/OSHA Re-Adopts and Revises Its Emergency Temporary Standards

Published December 21, 2021

By Shaye Schrick

On December 16, 2021, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) voted to re-adopt and revise its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”).  The revised ETS, which is slated to be in effect from January 14, 2022 through April 14, 2022, does the following:

  • Creates a new definition of “worksite” for purposes of employee notification, which excludes locations where the employee worked alone without exposure to other employees or to an employee’s personal residence or alternative work location chosen by the employee when working remotely;
  • Modifies permissible face coverings to include surgical masks, a medical procedure mask, a respirator worn voluntarily, or a tightly woven fabric or non-woven material of at least two layers that does not let light pass through when held up to a light source and which fits snugly over the nose, mouth, and chin with no large gaps on the outside of the face (certain clear face coverings permitted to facilitate communication with people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing or others who need to see a speaker’s mouth or facial expressions to understand speech or sign language) and sets forth social distancing and vaccination or testing requirements for employees whose medical or mental health condition or disability does not permit the use of face coverings or effective alternatives;
  • Re-defines COVID tests and the requirements of testing such that tests cannot be both self-administered and self-read unless observed by the employer or an authorized telehealth proctor, and requires testing be provided to any close contact or outbreak situation regardless of vaccination status;
  • Changes the definition of “fully vaccinated” by permitting a mixture of vaccines and requires fully-vaccinated, asymptomatic employees or employees who have recovered from COVID-19 infection in the prior 90 days to wear face coverings and socially distance for 14 days after close contact with COVID-19; and
  • Changes exclusion requirements for employees not considered “fully vaccinated” to 10 days if they wear face coverings and maintain social distancing until the 14-day mark or seven days if they test negative on day 5 or later and continue to wear face coverings and socially distance until the 14-day mark.

Employers should revise their existing ETS policies to include all requirements set forth in Cal/OSHA’s revised ETS.


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