Cal/OSHA has revised and readopted its COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for the third time. The updated ETS went into effect on May 7, 2022 and remains in effect through December 31, 2022, at which time Cal/OSHA is expected to implement permanent standards going forward. Cal/OSHA has also updated its COVID-19 ETS Frequently Asked Questions to include information on the most recent revisions.
COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standard Revisions
Key revisions to be aware of include changes regarding face coverings, vaccination status, cleaning and disinfection, testing, and exclusion/return to work standards.
- Eliminates the requirement that face coverings be made of material that does not let light pass through.
- Requires employers to provide respirators to all employees, not just unvaccinated employees, upon request.
- Eliminates social distancing requirements for employees exempt from face covering requirements due to a medical condition or job duty exception who cannot wear a non-restrictive alternative.
- Largely eliminates indoor face covering requirements except:
- When required by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
- For 10 days following an asymptomatic employee’s first positive test or after an employee first develops symptoms.
- For all indoor employees in an exposed group during a workplace outbreak or major outbreak or outdoor employees in an exposed group who cannot socially distance.
- Eliminates the term “fully vaccinated” and no longer distinguishes between employees on the basis of vaccination status.
Cleaning & Disinfection
- The ETS no longer includes any cleaning and disinfecting requirements.
- COVID-19 testing must be made available at no cost during work hours to all symptomatic employees and all employees with a workplace close contact, regardless of vaccination status.
- COVID-19 tests may be self-administered and self-read, without third-party observation, as long as additional independent verification—like a time-stamped photograph—accompanies the results.
- No testing is required for “returned cases” who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days and remain symptom-free.
Exclusions and Return to Work
- Regardless of vaccination status, positive employees can turn to work after 5 days if the employee has a negative test, symptoms are improving, and they wear a face covering at work for an additional 5 days. If the employee cannot test or the employer does not require a test, the employee must be excluded for 10 days.
- Employers are to defer to CDPH guidelines for exclusion and return to work criteria for “close contacts.”
Employers are encouraged to continue monitoring Cal/OSHA’s website, as well as updated guidelines issued by the California Department of Health and local public health agencies pertaining to face covering requirements and exclusion/return to work criteria. Cook Brown remains at the ready to provide detailed assistance regarding these issues as well.