With only two weeks left before an April 21st vote on the final version of Cal/OSHA’s COVID emergency temporary standard, the Standards Board has published the language the board will consider, vote on, and is expected to approve.
The upshot? The revise removes a few requirements in the existing ETS but leaves the bulk of the regulation intact. The regulated public will have plenty to say about it over the next couple of weeks, but what we see now is what we’re likely going to get.
Some of the more significant revisions include:
- Removing the definition of “fully vaccinated” from the rule;
- The term “high-risk exposure” is changed to “infectious period,” related to workplace COVID cases;
- A new term, “returned cases,” has been added, referring to COVID cases who have returned to work and have not developed symptoms after returning. Employers will not be required to test such personnel;
- Dropping the requirement for face coverings for employees not fully vaccinated and six-foot distancing for those exempted from facemasks for medical or other reasons. Such employees still will be required to be tested weekly;
- Cleaning and disinfection procedures are dropped from the engineering controls required by the ETS;
- Exclusion requirements for COVID cases and those with close contact are dropped. Instead, employers will be required to review the California Department of Public Health Guidance and implement effective policies;
- Updated return-to-work procedures;
- Partitions will no longer be required for exposed groups working together for an extended period but who can’t maintain distance, such as at cash registers, desks, and production line stations;
The ETS, once renewed, will expire on December 31st, but the Division of Occupational Safety and Health is expected to file a certificate of compliance with the state Office of Administrative Law to make it permanent.
The Division ultimately wants to replace the regulation with an airborne infectious disease prevention standard for general industry, similar to the aerosol transmissible diseases standard for healthcare.
The Standards Board is accepting comments on the proposal, but since this is an emergency rulemaking, it is unlikely there will be further changes before the vote. The regulated public also may submit comments to OAL for five days once it receives the rulemaking. OAL reviews regulations for compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act only.
Click here to see the posted regulation.