CA: Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard & Face Covering Updates

a person holding a bunch of cloth masks

On May 5, 2021, Cal/OSHA updated the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with additional information on excluding workers from the workplace, exposure protocols for non-outbreak settings, and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated individuals. This update comes on the heels of California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) updating their guidance on face coverings  (May 3, 2021) to better align with current Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations. 

Emergency Temporary Standard FAQ Update:

The ETS has been updated in two sections under Outbreaks and the “Exposed Workplace” sections:

12. Q. When must an employer exclude employees from work?

A. Employers must exclude from work employees who are not fully vaccinated if they (1) are COVID-19 cases, or (2)have had COVID-19 exposure. Applying Executive Order N-84-20 and the new CDPH COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated Individuals, employers must also exclude fully vaccinated employees if they (1) are COVID-19 cases, or (2) have had a COVID-19 exposure and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. However, employers do not need to exclude fully vaccinated employees who had a COVID-19 exposure who are asymptomatic.

15. Q. What are the quarantine requirements for a fully vaccinated employee exposed to a COVID-19 case?

A.  Applying Executive Order N-84-20 and the new CDPH COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People, an exposed employee who does not develop symptoms of COVID-19, does not need to quarantine.

The additional update to language can be found under the Testing section:

3. Q. In a non-outbreak setting, what are employers required to do when they learn that one or more of their employees had a COVID-19 exposure at the workplace?

A: Employers must:

· Notify all employees and employees’ authorized representatives who may have had COVID-19 exposure within one business day in a manner that does not reveal the COVID-19 case’s personal identifying information.

· Offer testing at no cost to any employee potentially exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace and provide applicable benefit information. The time an employee spends being tested is considered compensable hours worked.

· Exclude from the workplace employees who test positive for COVID-19 and exclude employees with COVID-19 exposure unless they are fully vaccinated and do not show any symptoms of COVID-19 and follow the requirements for preserving their pay and benefits.

· Follow the return-to-work criteria for returning excluded employees to work.

· Investigate the exposure and address hazards; and

· Follow all recordkeeping and reporting requirements for employee COVID-19 cases.

Face Covering Updates:

The updated guidance on face coverings in California provides that fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear face coverings when outdoors “except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.” 

Indoor settings outside of one’s home, including public transportation, face coverings will continue to be required regardless of vaccination status with a short list of exemptions.

Individuals that are not fully vaccinated are still advised to wear face coverings whether indoor or outdoor.

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