After a tumultuous two-week period at the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, the board is expected to promulgate a new COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) on June 17.
Unlike its predecessor, which was removed from Office of Administrative Law review last week, the new ETS adheres to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance much more closely. Specifically, the new ETS:
- Explicitly excludes work-from-home situations from the ETS requirements
- Permits all employees to go without face coverings while outside, except during active COVID-19 outbreaks
- Permits employers to allow their fully vaccinated employees to not wear face coverings, provided that the employer has documented employees’ vaccine status
- Provides that fully vaccinated employees do not need to be tested or quarantined if exposed to COVID-19 unless vaccinated employees are showing symptoms of COVID-19
- Requires that employers must provide, upon request, N95 respirators to employees who are not fully vaccinated, or if the employer does not have documentation of vaccination
- Requires that employers provide employees who are unvaccinated or do not provide documentation of vaccination with face coverings and requires that face coverings must be provided to fully vaccinated employees on request
While the COVID-19 ETS exempts employees at acute care hospitals who remain under the Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard, the COVID-19 ETS applies to all other employees. For hospitals, this may include employees in separate buildings, such as administrative or billing staff.
Additionally, staff may only be considered fully vaccinated under the regulation if the employer has documentation that the employee is fully vaccinated.
Questions should be directed to hospitals’ labor counsel. Both the regulations and the FAQs on compliance guidance are available on the Cal/OSHA website. It is likely that the governor will issue an executive order to implement the ETS provisions as soon as June 18. CHA will continue to publish updates on the ETS regulations specifically, and COVID-19 guidance generally.