On December 16, 2021, the second re-adoption of the Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) were approved. The new ETS is set to take effect January 14, 2022. This readoption includes many changes to the current ETS, which were previously revised once before (here), but were soon withdrawn.

Below are key revisions to the new ETS. Cal-OSHA has also prepared this fact sheet for employers.

Key Revisions

Worksite definition

The ETS revised the definition of “worksite,” now specifically excluding locations where the employee worked by themselves, or an employee’s personal residence or alternative “remote” work location.

Face Coverings in the Workplace

The definition of face coverings was updated, requiring it to be made of “fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source.” Examples of permissible types of face coverings include surgical masks, medical procedure masks, a respirator worn voluntarily, or a tightly woven fabric or non-woven material of at least two layers. Gaiters are allowed if they have “two layers of fabric or be folded to make two layers.

COVID- 19 Testing in the Workplace

Employers or authorized telehealth proctors are now required to observe self-administered tests. Thus, an acceptable COVID-19 test cannot be self-administered and self-read. Notably, during screenings, the screeners and employees must wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status.

Close Contacts and Workplace Exclusion

Employers are required to provide testing to all employees, at no cost, during paid time, regardless of vaccination status, if they had a close COVID-19 contact in the workplace or during an outbreak. The only exception for close contact testing are employees who recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days and are asymptomatic.

  • Employees who were fully vaccinated before having a close contact, but are asymptomatic, do not need to be excluded from the workplace, and may continue to work if the employee:
    • Does not develop symptoms,
    • Wears a face covering at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact, and
    • Maintains 6 feet of distance from others at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact.
  • Employees who have not been vaccinated before having a close contact, but are asymptomatic, do not need to be excluded from the workplace, and may continue to work if the employee:
    • Does not develop symptoms, and
    • 14 days have passed since the last know close contact.

 OR

    • 10 days have passed since the last known close contact,
    • Wears a face covering at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact, and
    • Maintains 6 feet of distance from others at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact.

OR

    • Seven days have passed since the last known close contact,
    • Tests negative for COVID-19 with a specimen taken at least 5 days after the last known close contact,
    • Wears a face covering at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact, and
    • Maintains 6 feet of distance from others at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact.

Key Requirements Remain Unchanged

COVID-19 Prevention Program

Remaining unchanged, employers must establish, implement, and maintain an effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program. Cal-OSHA has released a COVID-19 Model Written Program that employers can use to get in compliance.

Training and Instruction

Employers must continue to provide effective training and instruction to employees on how COVID-19 is spread, infection prevention techniques, and information regarding COVID-19 related benefits that may be available to affected employees under local, state and federal law.

Additional Notice for Employers

On December 15, 2021, a California Department of Public Health state-wide universal indoor masking order went into effect until January 15, 2022. Thus, between December 15, 2021 and January 15, 2022, California employers must require universal indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status.

 Updated Cal-OSHA COVID-19 ETS Frequently Asked Questions can be found here.

As additional guidance is issued, we will keep you informed.

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