California’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which was issued in late 2020 and set COVID-19 guidelines for employers, is set to expire in January 2022. The state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), which issued the ETS, is working on permanent rules that would remain in effect for at least two years.
How California’s COVID Rules May Change
The proposed permanent rules do not include a vaccine mandate, although things may change when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes a national standard on workplace vaccinations. California’s draft standard refers to the goal of implementing a permanent general infectious disease standard. The proposal incorporates the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) COVID-19 guidelines, as well as changes that may be made to them in the future.
Under the proposed standard, mask requirements for unvaccinated workers would remain in place. Employers would be required to provide face coverings as mandated by CDPH and to enforce their use. Unvaccinated employees would be required to wear masks when indoors or when in vehicles with others, even if CDPH did not require face coverings.
The plan proposes eliminating the requirement for a COVID-19 Prevention Plan and instead requiring employers to address the coronavirus through an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan. Employers would have to assess the risk related to COVID-19, provide appropriate training to employees, and investigate any COVID-19 cases that arose. The training requirement would apply to employers of any size.
The proposed new standard would change the requirements related to respirators. Under the current rules, employers must provide N95 respirators to unvaccinated employees upon request. The new rules would only require employers to provide respirators to workers whom a healthcare professional had deemed to be at increased risk of severe COVID-related illness.
The proposal would require employers to keep physical or digital records of employees’ vaccinations for two years or more. The new rules would expand requirements related to workplace ventilation and require testing for all employees who had come into contact with a co-worker with COVID-19, regardless of the other employees’ vaccination status. The rule would only exempt employees who had recently recovered from the coronavirus and who were asymptomatic from the testing requirement.
Stock up on Supplies to Protect Your Workers
Although it’s not yet clear whether these proposed changes will be adopted, employers have a duty to take measures to protect workers from the coronavirus. Providing masks and other personal protective equipment can significantly reduce the risk of transmission. 1st Aid Supplies sells masks and other forms of PPE. Order supplies today to keep your employees safe.