OSHA’s standard board approved their 3rd iteration of their Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID protection with a six to one vote. The current and second iteration of the ETS expires on May 5, 2022, and we should see the recently approved version filed and become effective before that time. Cal/OSHA’s website has not yet updated the current version of the ETS or their FAQs, but we expect to see those updates soon.
Earlier this month, the board posted draft language that outlines their proposed changes. The newly approved version of the ETS will now last until December 31 of this year. Here are several key changes to the ETS:
- Definition of fully vaccinated was removed
- The definition of “high-risk exposure has been removed and replaced with “infectious period”
- A new definition for “Returned Cases” has been added - referring to COVID cases who have returned to work and have not developed symptoms after returning
- Cleaning and disinfecting requirements have been removed
- COVID tests can now be self-administered and self-read, but other means of verification such as a time-stamped photo are required.
- All employees may request a face-covering regardless of vaccination status at no cost
- Elimination of the face-covering light test
- Partitions will no longer be required for exposed groups working together for an extended period but who can’t maintain distance, such as at cash registers, desks, and production line stations
The Division of Occupational Health and Safety is expected to replace the ETS with a permanent airborne infectious disease prevention standard in the future, but draft language has not been published. Cal/OSHA continues to publish guidelines, FAQs, model written programs, and other resources on their COVID ETS webpage. We will continue to keep you abreast of the changes and additional resources that are developed as information and rulings are updated.
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