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Update on California’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, and OSHA

In a surprising move, last night, June 9, 2021, in a special meeting, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board withdrew the revisions to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards that it had just approved on June 3. The Standards Board may consider new revisions as soon as its next regular meeting on June 17.

The Standards Board is under pressure to align workplace requirements to the California Department of Public Health’s (“CDPH”) new guidance that as of June 15, face coverings will not be required for fully vaccinated Californians in most public settings. The CDPH guidance, however, provides that face coverings will still be required for everyone in settings such as public transit, K-12 schools, childcare settings, other youth settings, healthcare settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and cooling centers.

Despite the new CDPH guidance, employers must continue to follow the Emergency Temporary Standards, which were first approved in November 2020. As a result, for now, even after June 15, face coverings will still be required for all workers when indoors.

In addition, today, June 10, the federal Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued an emergency rule that sets workplace safety parameters for employers in the health care sector for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also updated its guidance for mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 for all industries. Information about both developments is located here.

This past week’s events make clear that employers need to continue to stay alert and flexible when it comes to managing COVID-19 issues in the workplace.