CAL/OSHA Temporary Standard Covid

Posted on January 9, 2022 by Rick Rossignol

All Employers are required to create Covid 19 prevention plans to protect their employees. Similar to a IIPP, they must create a plan to evaluate the risks and resolve the risk.

California recently approved Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 infection prevention. These new temporary standards apply to most workers in California not covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard.

Why did Cal/OSHA propose revising the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards?

A:  Cal/OSHA proposed revisions to the COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS) to reflect the availability of vaccinations to limit workplace transmission, to revise requirements in light of updated Centers for Disease Control and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) face-covering guidance, and to provide options for employers to make a safe transition from physical distancing and face-covering mandates to more normal operations.
Q:  What is the status of the ETS?

A:  The ETS took effect on November 30, 2020. On June 3rd, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) voted to adopt proposed revisions to the ETS, but with reservations about some provisions. The Standards Board also voted to form a subcommittee to advise on further revisions to the ETS in light of these reservations.
On June 9, the Standards Board voted to withdraw the proposed revisions from OAL review. The Division offered to make further revisions in light of updated CDPH face-covering guidance and to address key concerns raised by Board members and stakeholders at the June 3 meeting. On June 17, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) voted to update the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), 8 CCR §§ 3205-3205.4. Executive Order N-09-21 permitted the revised ETS to take effect the same day.

What Changed

Q:  What are the important changes in the June 17 revised ETS?


  • Fully vaccinated employees without symptoms do not need to be tested or quarantined after close contacts with COVID-19 cases unless they have symptoms.
  • No face covering requirements outdoors (except during outbreaks), regardless of vaccination status, though workers must be trained on CDPH recommendations for outdoor use of face coverings.
  • Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees not to wear face coverings indoors, but must document their vaccination status. There are some settings where CDPH requires face coverings regardless of vaccination status. In outbreaks, all employees must wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when six-feet physical distancing cannot be maintained, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Employers must provide unvaccinated employees with approved  respirators for voluntary use when working indoors or in a vehicle with others, upon request.
  • Employers may not retaliate against employees for wearing face coverings.
  • No physical distancing or barrier requirements regardless of employee vaccination status with the following exceptions:
    • Employers must evaluate whether it is necessary to implement physical distancing and barriers during an outbreak (3 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)
    • Employers must implement physical distancing and barriers during a major outbreak (20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)
  • No physical distancing requirements whatsoever in the employer-provided housing and transportation regulations.
  • Where all employees are vaccinated in employer-provided housing and transportation, employers are exempt from those regulations 
  • Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtrations efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems

Q. Are there requirements from the November 2020 ETS that will remain in place?A:  Yes, including:

  • An effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program.
  • Providing effective training and instruction to employees on the employer’s prevention plan and their rights under the ETS.
  • Providing notification to public health departments of outbreaks.
  • Providing notification to employees of exposure and close contacts.
  • Requirements to offer testing after potential exposures.
  • Requirements for responding to COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.
  • Quarantine and exclusion pay requirements.
  • Basic prevention requirements for employer-provided housing and transportation.

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