The saga around Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) has taken several bizarre twists and turns. After hurriedly adopting the ETS over Thanksgiving weekend 2020, Cal/OSHA set about this spring to fix some problems with the initial ETS regulatory text. The agency proposed a revised version of the ETS to be considered by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board in late May 2021, but on the eve of that Standards Board meeting, Cal/OSHA pulled it back, purportedly to address the CDC’s updated guidance about masks and distancing for vaccinated workers. Inexplicably, however, Cal/OSHA produced an updated proposed amended ETS that was more onerous, not less.
On June 3, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board convened a special meeting to consider the revisions to the ETS. The public meeting was long and contentious, with 100+ stakeholders testifying lasting late into the evening. Initially, the Board voted to Continue reading →
Face coverings: The new language mentions several options for face coverings but does not mention a popular one — gaiters. Responding to a question we presented to the Division, Cal/OSHA confirmed that gaiters can be an acceptable face covering if they are doubled over to create two layers of protection.
Written notice of COVID-19 cases: Verbal notice can be substituted where the employer has reason to know that an employee will not get the written notice or has such “limited literacy” that a written notice will be ineffective.
The requirements that the test be free to the employee and conducted on company time remain. In a bit of foresight, the new rule will provide an exception for employees who are fully vaccinated before a close contact and remain symptom-free.
Training: This and other sections of the new regulation signal a shift to what might be called “mandatory-voluntary” use of the N95. Continue reading →
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.” SeeCal/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 →
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 →