The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board is scheduled to meet on April 21 to decide whether to readopt a fourth iteration of its current COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS).
The ETS applies to all workers not covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard or those working alone/remotely and requires employers to create, implement and maintain an up-to-date COVID-19 Prevention Program.
Many of the proposed changes appear to signal a shift in ETS protocols into closer alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California Department of Public Health updated guidelines. This includes references to CDPH masking protocols and quarantine/isolation guidelines.
Some of the more significant proposed revisions include:
- Dropping the cleaning and disinfecting requirements in the workplace and for employer-provided housing and transportation;
- Eliminating the definition of “fully vaccinated;”
- 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. The requirement to test such employees weekly remains;
- The term “high-risk exposure” is replaced by “infectious period,” related to employee COVID cases;
- Employers will not be required to test “returned cases,” (i.e., COVID cases who have returned to work and have not developed symptoms after returning.)
- Dropping of exclusion requirements for COVID cases and those with close contacts. Instead, employers will now be required to review the CDPH Guidance and implement effective policies
- Updated return-to-work procedures; and
- Dropping the requirement to use partitions when physical distancing is not feasible.
The current ETS is set to expire on May 5, 2022. View the amended standards here.
[Teresa McQueen is corporate counsel for Western Growers.]