Cal/OSHA Standards Board Withdraws Previously Approved Revised COVID-19 ETS

As of this writing, on June 11, 2021, the state of California plans to fully reopen for business in less than one week (June 15). Members may be wondering how the state’s reopening affects their California business operations. While you may have read a recent Bulletin article, as California tends to do, there have been updates since this article was published.

On June 9, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board unanimously voted to withdraw the revised Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) that it had approved in its June 3 meeting and had sent to the Office of Administrative Law for review and approval. While not fully aligned with the CDC and California Department of Public Health’s Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals, it did allow for some relaxed rules. Mask guidance was one of the most highly anticipated topics for California employers. In the June 3 revised ETS, masks would not be required if all persons in a room are fully vaccinated and not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Moreover, masks would not be required outdoors for either fully vaccinated or unvaccinated workers without symptoms except when working at “outdoor mega-events” with over 10,000 attendees, which may include concerts, conventions, or theme parks. The revised ETS also addresses many other requirements related to the use of respirators (N95 masks), social distancing, exclusion from the workplace following exposure, and more.

In its June 9 News Release, Cal/OSHA indicated it “will review the new mask guidance and bring any recommended revisions to the board.” These new revisions could be considered at a future meeting (possibly as early as June 17). California employers were anticipating the June 3 revised ETS would become effective by June 15 and have likely already been preparing for its new requirements. With the Standards Board withdrawing the June 3 revised ETS, California employers are left wondering when a revised ETS will likely be considered and approved. Until further notice, the November 30, 2020, ETS will remain in effect, which means that employers must still enforce mask mandates and social distancing for both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees, among other things.

The California Legal Services team will continue to monitor any updates to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS. Members who have questions about the current ETS in place or would like assistance in handling a potential COVID-19 exposure at its California worksite can contact us at CAInfo@employerscouncil.org.