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  • New California ETS Requirements in Effect January 14th

    If you are not keeping score at home, this can definitely be confusing!

    The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards are still in effect. The workplace standards were updated in December 2021 to include minor revisions related to returning to work after close contact.

    The revisions are effective starting on January 14, 2022. In addition to these requirements, employers must follow public health orders on COVID-19. The latest order from the California Department of Public Health on January 5, 2022 requires the use of face coverings by all employees when indoors. This is one of the particularly sensitive requirements in the CDPH order and one that has been generating a lot of questions from HR professionals.  Members should confer with our Helpline regarding specific situations.  More information on the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards is available in Cal/OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions

    The updated ETS also includes requirements stating:

    • Employers must provide employees who are not fully vaccinated with face coverings of at least two layers or more and ensure they are worn over the nose and mouth when indoors, in vehicles and when required by orders from the CDPH.
    • Employers can have policies that are stricter than those required by the ETS. However, an accommodation must be made for those who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, who are hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person, or when an employee performs specific tasks which cannot be performed with a face covering.
    • Employees must be excluded from the workplace for at least five days after their last close contact with a person who has COVID-19.

    For information on the most recent FAQs (published over the last month) as well as links to all the related FAQs, please continue to our blog.

    Here is a summary of the key revisions to the ETS over the past month:

    On December 15, 2021, additional FAQs addressing the ETS’ requirements for Face Coverings and Other Controls were added as Q & A 5)… 

    Face Coverings and Other Controls

    1. Q: What are the face covering requirements of the ETS?
      A: The ETS requires employers to provide employees who are not fully vaccinated with face coverings of at least 2 layers or more and ensure they are worn over the nose and mouth when indoors, in vehicles and when required by orders from the CDPH. Outdoors, no employees need to use face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, unless there is an outbreak.
      Exceptions include: when an employee is alone in a room or vehicle, while eating or drinking provided employees are six feet apart or outside, employees wearing respirators, employees who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or disability or who are hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person, or when an employee performs specific tasks which cannot be performed with a face covering. Employers must also provide face coverings to employees upon request, regardless of their vaccination status.
    2. Q: What if an employee is not required to wear a face covering under the ETS, but wishes to do so?
      A: Employers must allow employees to wear face coverings if they voluntarily choose to do so, unless it would create a safety hazard, such as interfering with the safe operation of equipment.
    3. Q: May an employer require an employee to wear a face covering at work even if the employee provides documentation verifying that they are fully vaccinated?
      A: Yes, employers can have policies that are stricter than those required by the ETS. However, an accommodation must be made for those who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, who are hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person, or when an employee performs specific tasks which cannot be performed with a face covering.
    4. Q: What engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment must an employer implement?
      A: Requirements include:

      • Engineering controls
        • Maximize the amount of outside air to the extent feasible, unless there is poor outside air quality (an AQI of 100 or higher for any pollutant) or some other hazard to employees such as excessive heat or cold
      • Administrative controls
        • Implement effective cleaning procedures of commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, equipment, tools, handrails, handles, controls, phones, headsets, bathroom surfaces, and steering wheels
        • Clean areas and material where a COVID-19 case has been during the “high risk exposure period,” as defined in these FAQs, and disinfect if indoors and used by another employee within 24 hours
        • Provide for, encourage and allow time for frequent hand washing, and provide hand sanitizer
      • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
        • Evaluate the need for PPE, including but not limited to gloves, eye protection and respiratory protection as required by Cal/OSHA standards
        • Upon request, provide respirators for voluntary use to all employees who are not fully vaccinated and who are working indoors or in vehicles with more than one person (“respirator” means a respiratory protection device approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to protect the wearer from particulate matter, such as an N95 mask)
        • When respirators are provided for voluntary use, encourage their use and ensure the respirator is the correct size for the employee
        • Provide eye and respiratory protection for employees exposed to procedures that aerosolize saliva or other potentially infectious materials, such as some dental procedures.
    5. Q: What impact does CDPH’s Guidance for the Use of Masks, revised as of December 13, 2021, have on the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS)?
      A: Cal/OSHA’s face covering requirements are detailed in the ETS. The ETS requires that employers “provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by employees when required by orders” of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). (8 CCR § 3205(c)(6)(B).) The December 13, 2021 CDPH guidance is such an order.

    On January 6, 2022, the ETS’ FAQs added questions relating to The California Department of Public Health’s Isolation and Quarantine section.

    CDPH Isolation and Quarantine

    1. Q: How do the January 6, 2022 changes to CDPH’s recommended isolation and quarantine periods affect the ETS?
      A: In December of 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order N-84-20, which states that the recommended isolation and quarantine periods in the ETS (also called “exclusion periods” in the ETS) will be overridden by any applicable isolation or quarantine recommendation by the CDPH or, if applicable, the local health department with jurisdiction over the workplace, if the periods in the ETS are longer than those recommended by the CDPH or local health department. If the CDPH and local health department isolation and quarantine recommendations differ, the required exclusion period under the ETS is the longer of the two.

    This means that, with only one exception noted below, the new isolation and quarantine recommendations from CDPH replace the exclusion periods and return to work criteria in sections 3205(c)(9) and 3205(c)(10) of the ETS. The exclusion requirements are as follows in the tables below.

    The June 17, 2021 ETS remains in effect until January 14, 2022. Until then, the quarantine rules for fully vaccinated workers set forth therein continue to apply because exclusion period for this group of workers is not longer than those recommended by the updated CDPH guidance. However, employers are encouraged to review and begin the process of implementing the CDPH recommendations before then. The CDPH recommendations will replace exclusion periods and return to work criteria for all workers when the second readoption of the ETS takes effect on January 14, 2022.

    Table 1: Exclusion Requirements for Employees Who Test Positive for COVID-19 (Isolation)

    Requirements apply to all employees, regardless of vaccination status, previous infection, or lack of symptoms. o    Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from the workplace for at least 5 days.

    o    Isolation can end and employees may return to the workplace after day 5 if symptoms are not present or are resolving, and a diagnostic specimen* collected on day 5 or later tests negative.

    o    If an employee is unable or chooses not to testi and their symptoms are not present or are resolving, isolation can end and the employee may return to the workplace after day 10.

    o    If an employee has a feverii, isolation must continue and the employee may not return to work until the fever resolvesiii.

    o    If an employee’s symptoms other than fever are not resolving, they may not return to work until their symptoms are resolving or until after day 10 from the positive test.

    o    Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days after the positive test, especially in indoor settings. Please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements.

    * Antigen test preferred.

    Table 2: Employees Who Are Exposed to Someone with COVID-19 (Quarantine)

    Requirements apply to employees who are:

    o    Unvaccinated; OR

    o    Vaccinated and booster-eligible+ but have not yet received their booster dose.++

    + Refer to CDC COVID-19 Booster Shots to determine who is booster eligible.

    o    Employees must be excluded from the workplace for at least 5 days after their last close contact with a person who has COVID-19.

    o    Exposed employees must test on day 5.

    o    Quarantine can end and exposed employees may return to the workplace after day 5 if symptoms are not present and a diagnostic specimen* collected on day 5 or later tests negative.

    o    If an employee is unable or chooses not to testi and does not have symptoms, quarantine can end and the employee may return to the workplace after day 10.

    o    Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days after exposure, especially in indoor settings. Please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements.

    o    If an exposed employee tests positive for COVID-19, they must follow the isolation requirements above in Table 1.

    o    If an exposed employee develops symptoms, they must be excluded pending the results of a test.

    o    Employees are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or boosted.

    ++Employers are not required to exclude asymptomatic employees in this category if:

      • A negative diagnostic test* is obtained within 3-5 days after last exposure to a case;
      • Employee wears a face covering around others for a total of 10 days (please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements); and
      • Employee continues to have no symptoms.

    Table 3: Employees Who Are Exposed to Someone with COVID-19 (No Quarantine Required)

    Requirements apply to employees who are:

    o    Boosted; OR

    o    Vaccinated, but not yet booster-eligible.×

    × Refer to CDC COVID-19 Booster Shots to determine who is booster eligible.

    Employees do not need to quarantine if they:

    o    Test on day 5 with a negative result.

    o    Wear face coverings around others for 10 days after exposure, especially in indoor settings. Please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements.

    o    If employees test positive, they must follow isolation recommendations above.

    o    If employees develop symptoms, they must be excluded pending the results of a test.

    In addition to the above, pursuant to section 3205(c)(10)(E), when an order to isolate, quarantine, or exclude an employee is issued by a local or state health official, the employee shall not return to work until the period of isolation or quarantine is completed or the order is lifted even if the order exceeds the specified exclusion requirements in the ETS or CDPH recommendation.

    1. Q: What if tests cannot be obtained following a close contact?
      A: If employees covered by Table 2 cannot be tested as required, quarantine must continue for at least 10 days as explained in the table. If employees covered by Table 3 cannot be tested on day 5, employers should follow the ETS. For vaccinated close contacts, as of January 14, 2022, that means wearing a face covering and maintaining six feet of distance for 14 days following the close conta

    i Employers may require employees submit to viral testing for COVID-19. Please refer to the FAQ from DFEH for further information.

    ii A fever is a measured body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

    iii A fever resolves when 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications.

    Additional Resources

    1. Q: What additional resources are available for employers and workers to understand the rule and comply?
      A: Cal/OSHA has a number of resources in place and in development to assist with compliance with the ETS:

     

    On January 7, 2022, the CDHP Isolation and Quarantine section, removed table 4 to determine when a person is “booster-eligible” and instead provided direct link to CDC recommendation.

    Additionally, on January 12, 2022, the CDHP revised the Isolation and Quarantine section by removing *Antigen test preferred from table 2

    CDPH Isolation and Quarantine

    1. Q: How do the January 6, 2022 changes to CDPH’s recommended isolation and quarantine periods affect the ETS?
      A: In December of 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order N-84-20, which states that the recommended isolation and quarantine periods in the ETS (also called “exclusion periods” in the ETS) will be overridden by any applicable isolation or quarantine recommendation by the CDPH or, if applicable, the local health department with jurisdiction over the workplace, if the periods in the ETS are longer than those recommended by the CDPH or local health department. If the CDPH and local health department isolation and quarantine recommendations differ, the required exclusion period under the ETS is the longer of the two.

    This means that, with only one exception noted below, the new isolation and quarantine recommendations from CDPH replace the exclusion periods and return to work criteria in sections 3205(c)(9) and 3205(c)(10) of the ETS. The exclusion requirements are as follows in the tables below.

    The June 17, 2021 ETS remains in effect until January 14, 2022. Until then, the quarantine rules for fully vaccinated workers set forth therein continue to apply because exclusion period for this group of workers is not longer than those recommended by the updated CDPH guidance. However, employers are encouraged to review and begin the process of implementing the CDPH recommendations before then. The CDPH recommendations will replace exclusion periods and return to work criteria for all workers when the second readoption of the ETS takes effect on January 14, 2022.

    Table 1: Exclusion Requirements for Employees Who Test Positive for COVID-19 (Isolation)

    Requirements apply to all employees, regardless of vaccination status, previous infection, or lack of symptoms. o    Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from the workplace for at least 5 days.

    o    Isolation can end and employees may return to the workplace after day 5 if symptoms are not present or are resolving, and a diagnostic specimen* collected on day 5 or later tests negative.

    o    If an employee is unable or chooses not to testi and their symptoms are not present or are resolving, isolation can end and the employee may return to the workplace after day 10.

    o    If an employee has a feverii, isolation must continue and the employee may not return to work until the fever resolvesiii.

    o    If an employee’s symptoms other than fever are not resolving, they may not return to work until their symptoms are resolving or until after day 10 from the positive test.

    o    Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days after the positive test, especially in indoor settings. Please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements.

    * Antigen test preferred.

    Table 2: Employees Who Are Exposed to Someone with COVID-19 (Quarantine)

    Requirements apply to employees who are:

    o    Unvaccinated; OR

    o    Vaccinated and booster-eligible+ but have not yet received their booster dose.++

    + Refer to CDC COVID-19 Booster Shots to determine who is booster eligible.

    o    Employees must be excluded from the workplace for at least 5 days after their last close contact with a person who has COVID-19.

    o    Exposed employees must test on day 5.

    o    Quarantine can end and exposed employees may return to the workplace after day 5 if symptoms are not present and a diagnostic specimen* collected on day 5 or later tests negative.

    o    If an employee is unable or chooses not to testi and does not have symptoms, quarantine can end and the employee may return to the workplace after day 10.

    o    Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days after exposure, especially in indoor settings. Please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements.

    o    If an exposed employee tests positive for COVID-19, they must follow the isolation requirements above in Table 1.

    o    If an exposed employee develops symptoms, they must be excluded pending the results of a test.

    o    Employees are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or boosted.

    ++Employers are not required to exclude asymptomatic employees in this category if:

      • A negative diagnostic test* is obtained within 3-5 days after last exposure to a case;
      • Employee wears a face covering around others for a total of 10 days (please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements); and
      • Employee continues to have no symptoms.

    Table 3: Employees Who Are Exposed to Someone with COVID-19 (No Quarantine Required)

    Requirements apply to employees who are:

    o    Boosted; OR

    o    Vaccinated, but not yet booster-eligible.×

    × Refer to CDC COVID-19 Booster Shots to determine who is booster eligible.

    Employees do not need to quarantine if they:

    o    Test on day 5 with a negative result.

    o    Wear face coverings around others for 10 days after exposure, especially in indoor settings. Please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements.

    o    If employees test positive, they must follow isolation recommendations above.

    o    If employees develop symptoms, they must be excluded pending the results of a test.

    In addition to the above, pursuant to section 3205(c)(10)(E), when an order to isolate, quarantine, or exclude an employee is issued by a local or state health official, the employee shall not return to work until the period of isolation or quarantine is completed or the order is lifted even if the order exceeds the specified exclusion requirements in the ETS or CDPH recommendation.

    1. Q: What if tests cannot be obtained following a close contact?
      A: If employees covered by Table 2 cannot be tested as required, quarantine must continue for at least 10 days as explained in the table. If employees covered by Table 3 cannot be tested on day 5, employers should follow the ETS. For vaccinated close contacts, as of January 14, 2022, that means wearing a face covering and maintaining six feet of distance for 14 days following the close contact.

    i Employers may require employees submit to viral testing for COVID-19. Please refer to the FAQ from DFEH for further information.

    ii A fever is a measured body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

    iii A fever resolves when 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications.

    Additional Resources

    1. Q: What additional resources are available for employers and workers to understand the rule and comply?
      A: Cal/OSHA has a number of resources in place and in development to assist with compliance with the ETS: