Cal / OSHA adopts revised COVID-19 workplace standards

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Council for the second time in two weeks on Thursday adopted revisions to the temporary emergency COVID-19 prevention standards that take into account recent guidance from the California Department of Public Health .

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed an executive order allowing revisions to take effect without the normal 10-day review period by the Administrative Law Office.

The California Department of Industrial Relations said in a statement Thursday that the changes bring “clarity and consistency to employers and employees as California fully reopens its economy.”

The revised standards went into effect immediately and include rules that fully vaccinated employees do not need to be offered testing or be excluded from work after close contact unless they show symptoms of COVID -19. They also do not need to wear face coverings, except in certain situations during epidemics and in contexts where the state Department of Public Health requires all people to wear them.

Face coverings – which according to the previous revision were required in most circumstances – are heavily addressed in the revisions, including the fact that employees are no longer required to wear face coverings outdoors, regardless of their vaccination status, with the exception of certain employees during epidemics.

Workers are also explicitly allowed to wear a face covering without fear of reprisal from employers. Employees who are not fully immunized can request voluntary respirators from their employers at no cost and without fear of reprisal from their employers, under the new rules.

The revisions also eliminate physical distancing requirements, except when an employer determines there is a danger and for some employees during major outbreaks. They further exempt employer-provided accommodation and transportation from regulations where all employees are fully immunized.

The new revisions also stipulate that employers must document the immunization status of fully immunized employees if they do not wear face covers indoors.

Regarding testing, the revisions state that employers must offer COVID-19 testing to employees who are not fully vaccinated and have symptoms of COVID-19.

Employers should also review state ventilation requirements and evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency and evaluate the use of additional air purification systems.

More news on insurance and workplace accidents on the coronavirus crisis here.

About Geraldine Higgins

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