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Updated COVID Guidance from Cal/OSHA on Masks, Vaccinations, Testing, and Physical Distancing

On June 17, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to adopt the revised COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards. Within minutes, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order for the updates to take effect immediately, for up to 210 days until January 14, 2022. Businesses should be aware of these current regulations regarding face coverings and physical distancing as they apply to most workers in California not covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard.


Overall, employers must maintain up to date and accurate records of all COVID-19 cases, while maintaining confidentiality on sensitive personnel information. In the case of a COVID-19 related serious illness or death in the workplace, all records must be available to employees and authorized employee representatives, and the incident must be reported to the nearest Cal/OSHA enforcement district office.


Of particular relevance on the vaccine debate, employers may request vaccination status updates from employees for record purposes, but cannot discriminate based on vaccination status and cannot make it mandatory for employees to share if they do not wish to disclose the information. In that case, employers must treat the employee as an unvaccinated person and enforce face coverings in the workplace.


The latest updates to the Emergency Temporary Standards include the following:


Testing

  • Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be offered testing or excluded from work after close contact unless they have COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms must be offered testing by their employer.

COVID-19 testing must be offered to employees who are not fully vaccinated and may have been exposed to COVID-19 at no cost, and during paid time.


Face Coverings

  • Fully vaccinated employees do not need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where CDPH requires all persons to wear them. Employers must document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they do not wear face coverings indoors.

  • Employees are not required to wear face coverings when outdoors regardless of vaccination status except for certain employees during outbreaks.

  • Employees are explicitly allowed to wear a face covering without fear of retaliation from employers.

  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated may request respirators for voluntary use from their employers at no cost and without fear of retaliation from their employers.

In the event of an outbreak (three or more cases in an exposed work group in a 14-day period), face coverings are required indoors and outdoors when physical distancing cannot take place, regardless of the vaccination status of the employees. Employers are also required to notify the local health department no longer than 48 hours after learning of an outbreak in the workplace, and work together to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.


Physical Distancing

  • Physical distancing requirements have been eliminated except where an employer determines there is a hazard and for certain employees during major outbreaks.

In the event of a major outbreak (20 or more cases within a 30-day period), physical distancing is required indoors and outdoors where feasible.


Additional Updates

  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms must be offered testing by their employer.

  • Employers must review the Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.

  • Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems.

There are additional requirements from the initial COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards in November 2020 that continue to remain in effect through the June 17 updates.

  • Employers must establish, implement, and maintain an effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program that includes:

  • Identifying and evaluating employee exposures to COVID-19 health hazards.

  • Implementing effective policies and procedures to correct unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

  • Allowing adequate time for handwashing and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects.

  • Employers must provide effective training and instruction to employees on how COVID-19 is spread, infection prevention techniques, and information regarding COVID-19-related benefits that affected employees may be entitled to under applicable federal, state, or local laws.

  • Employers must exclude employees who have COVID-19 symptoms and/or are not fully vaccinated and have had a close contact from the workplace and, if that close contact is work related, ensure continued wages

Additional information can be found in Cal/OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions.


As we continue to work through the pandemic, it is imperative that business owners continue to establish, implement, and maintain written COVID-19 policies, screen employees for symptoms, and train staff on proper handling of face coverings and COVID-19 spread prevention.


If you need more information on how the Emergency Temporary Standards may apply to your business, we encourage you to contact our office at info@gradyfirm.com, or call us at (949) 798-6298.


You can also book a call on our calendar at https://www.gradyfirm.com/schedule.


DO YOU NEED HELP DRAFTING WORKPLACE POLICIES AND CREATING COVID-19 PROCEDURES?


The Grady Firm attorneys provide the following employment law services:

  • Assistance with interpreting emergency COVID-19 legislation as it affects your business;

  • Counsel employers on staff changes and draft Notices of Reduced Hours, Furloughs, or Layoffs;

  • Draft Severance Agreements;

  • Act as I-9 agent and I-9 audit preparation or defense;

  • Employee v. independent contractor classification analysis;

  • Assistance with converting independent contractors to employees;

  • On-site, classroom-style Sexual Harassment training for employees and supervisors;

  • “Experiential” supervisor training in which managerial employees practice processing a harassment complaint and commencing an investigation in pairs with other trainees.

  • Draft and review Employee Handbooks, arbitration agreements, and Anti-Harassment policies;

  • Employee personnel file audits;

  • Litigation/labor claim defense.

To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (949) 798-6298; or fill out a Contact Request Form.