By Andrew J. Sommer
Cal/OSHA has used up all of its “re-adoptions” of its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, so if COVID-19 regulatory requirements are to remain in effect in California into 2023, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board will need to adopt a “Permanent” COVID-19 rule. At a meeting of the Cal/OSH Standards Board last week, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) revealed a proposed Permanent COVID-19 rule.
Andrew J. Sommer, the Head of CMC’s Cal/OSHA Practice, was interviewed by InsideOSHA about these developments. Here’s a link to the article with that detailed interview, and below is some additional context and background about the rulemaking.
The draft permanent rule is intended to replace the COVID-19 ETS that is set to expire at the end of 2022. Here is a link to the agency’s draft regulatory text for the permanent rule. The proposed permanent rule is expected to remain in effect for two years, except for the record-making and recordkeeping provisions that would remain effective for three years.
While DOSH previously indicated that the “permanent” rule would be consistent with the ETS, there are a few significant changes we have identified. Most troubling among them, the definition of “close contact” has been made consistent with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance removing the 6-foot, 15-minutes standard. Instead, the draft defines close contact as:
By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force
As the number of vaccinated workers continues to rise, and despite guidance from the CDC lifting certain restrictions against fully vaccinated individuals, Cal/OSHA’s current official position, as reflected in its COVID-19 ETS FAQs, is that “[f]or now, all prevention measures must continue to be implemented” for vaccinated persons. The same set of FAQs, however, also informs us that “[t]he impact of vaccines will likely be addressed in a future revision to the ETS.” See Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS FAQs “Vaccines” FAQ #1.
Following the February 11, 12, and 16 Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS Advisory Committee meetings, in which CMC participated on behalf of our California Employers COVID-19 Prevention Coalition, Deputy Chief of Cal/OSHA Research and Standards shared an updated version of a “Discussion Draft” of the ETS that reflects changes under consideration by the agency. The issue of how vaccinated employees should be treated under the ETS was a major topic of discussion during the Advisory Committee meetings, and potential changes to the ETS around that are reflected in notes in the Discussion Draft.
While the notes are not necessarily proposed amended regulatory text (rather, they largely incorporate committee members’ feedback ), reading the tea leaves from the Advisory Committee meetings, it is clear that Cal/OSHA Continue reading
By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force
Over four months after the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“Board”) unanimously adopted a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”), the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (the “Division”) has been busy considering potential changes to the emergency regulation. When the ETS was first adopted, the regulated community scrambled to understand and implement the regulation. The Division issued numerous Frequently Asked Questions in January, February and March, but many questions remained unanswered.
In February, the Division convened an Advisory Committee to provide input on possible changes to the ETS. The Advisory Committee consisted of members from business and industry, labor and community groups, public agencies, and the health sciences. A coalition of California employers organized by Conn Maciel Carey – the California Employer COVID-19 Prevention Coalition (the “Coalition”) – was one of a very small group of industry representatives invited to participate on the Advisory Committee.
Ahead of the Advisory Committee meetings, which were held on February 11, 12 and 16, Cal/OSHA circulated Discussion Drafts reflecting changes to be considered during the meetings. Over the course of the 3-day Advisory Committee meeting, the Coalition had the opportunity to provide meaningful input on it members’ concerns and recommendations to improve the ETS.
On March 2, the Coalition submitted written comments to the Chief of the Division. The Coalition addressed a variety of concerns, including suggesting the Division: Continue reading