On April 21, 2022, California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted the next iteration of the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”), which sets out workplace safety requirements related to COVID-19 applicable to public employers. This latest ETS comes a few weeks before the current ETS is set to expire on May 6, 2022.
This version of the ETS leaves much of the previous iteration unchanged. There are, however, important revisions that employers should note and incorporate into their COVID-19 Prevention Programs. These revisions include:
- codifying the Governor’s February 2022 Executive Order that removed stringent face covering requirements for unvaccinated employees;
- allowing employees to use self-administered and self-read tests to determine eligibility for returning to work, provided the results can be independently verified (e.g., with a time-stamped photo);
- providing that state health authorities may define what it means for an employee to have a close contact with COVID-19;
- imposing new testing requirements in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak or major outbreak;
- adding a requirement that employers provide unredacted personal identifying information about COVID-19 cases to local, state, and federal public health authorities upon request; and
- removing mandatory cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
Some of the terminology in the ETS has also changed. For example, the Board exchanged the term “high risk exposure period” for “infectious period,” in line with the terminology used by public health authorities. This version of the ETS also includes a new term, “returned case,” to refer to symptom-free employees with COVID-19 immunity naturally conferred from a recent case. More substantively, the Board removed the term “fully vaccinated,” such that most ETS requirements apply identically regardless of vaccination status.
The new ETS will take effect May 6, 2022, and expire December 31, 2022. Our attorneys and professionals are available to support your agency and to answer any questions that you have about this latest ETS.