4 The record articles

Cal/OSHA Revises COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards

Posted: January 13th, 2022

Authors: Bruce A. 

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) is the standards-setting agency within the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (better known as Cal/OSHA).  On December 16, 2021, the OSHSB adopted revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) to include the latest recommendations from the California Department of Public Health. The revisions will take effect on January 14, 2022, and will be effective through April 14, 2022.

The following is a summary of changes to the ETS. Note that this summary is not an all-inclusive description of the changes.

  • Under the Cal/OSHA ETS, face coverings are required for all non-fully vaccinated employees; however, the California Department of Public Health order requires face coverings in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status, through February 15, 2022.
  • Face coverings are defined as a surgical mask, a medical procedure mask, a respirator worn voluntarily, or a tightly woven fabric or non-woven material of at least two layers (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).
  • A COVID-19 test is defined as a test approved in an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to detect current infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (e.g., a viral test); note that the definition of a test does not include those that are both self-administered and self-read (home test) unless observed by the employer or an authorized telehealth provider.
  • Allows for an exemption to the definition of worksite, to exempt locations where a worker works by themselves without exposure to other employees.
  • Requires employee notification to ALL employees, including contractor and employees of other employers, who were on the premises at the same time as the COVID-19 case during the high-risk exposure period. A high-risk exposure period is defined as 2 days prior to COVID-19 case testing positive or from first exhibiting symptoms through 10 days post COVID-19 case testing positive or first exhibiting symptoms.
  • When there has been a COVID-19 case in the place of employment, COVID-19 testing must be provided at no cost, during paid time, to all employees of the employer who had close contact in the workplace to both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees.
  • If an employee cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability, they must wear a non-restrictive alternate such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom. If the employee is unable to wear a non-restrictive alternative, the employee can work at the worksite without a face covering as long as they maintain 6 feet of physical distancing from other persons, and either be fully vaccinated or test weekly for COVID-19.
  • Employees who are fully vaccinated are not required to be excluded from the workplace after close contact with a COVID-19 case if they wear a face covering and maintain six feet of physical distance from others at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact.
  • Employees can return to the workplace if they test negative for COVID-19 with a test taken 5 days after the last known close contact, and the employee wears a face covering and maintains six feet of physical distance from others at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact with the COVID-19 case.

ALL4 is a full service environmental and environmental health consulting firm specializing in health and safety plan issues.  We are able to support you with COVID-19 program development and COVID-19 training.  If you have any questions on how the ETS or other health and safety regulations affect your facility, please contact Bruce Armbruster at barmbruster@all4inc.com.


 Additional Resources:

Cal/OSHA News Release >
California OSHSB ETS Page >


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