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21 Dec

December 2021: Cal/OSHA Adopts Revised and Restrictive Covid-19 ETS

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Update Applicable to:
All employers in California.

What happened?
On December 16, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board voted to approve the second readoption of the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) with changes that will take effect January 14, 2022.

What are the details?
The first iteration of the Cal/OSHA ETS took effect on November 30, 2020. Under California administrative procedure, an emergency regulation can be readopted twice. The Cal/OSHA ETS was first readopted (and revised) on June 17, 2021.

The Standards Board voted almost unanimously during the December 16, 2021 meeting to revise the existing version of the California ETS. This second readoption of the ETS includes substantive changes to, among other items, various definitions, exclusion exemption requirements, and return-to-work criteria.

The highlights of these changes are:

  • A new definition of “COVID-19 test.”
  • Changes to permissible types of face coverings.
  • A new definition of “fully vaccinated” that permits mix-and-match.
  • A new definition of “worksite” for purposes of COVID-19 employee notification.
  • Testing must be provided to any workplace close contacts, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Different requirements around fully vaccinated and not fully vaccinated close contacts.
  • Outbreak testing can’t exclude fully vaccinated employees.

The second readoption of the ETS did not bring any changes to the general Cal/OSHA face-covering rule which says that fully vaccinated employees need not wear face coverings indoors. However, employers should be aware that on December 15, 2021, a California Department of Public Health state-wide universal indoor masking order went into effect until January 15, 2022. This means that between December 15, 2021, and January 15, 2022, employers in California will nonetheless need to require universal indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status.

The Cal/OSHA ETS and its changes will take effect on January 14, 2022.

For more information, please see the links below:

Cal/OSHA Revised ETS

CDPH Indoor Masking Order

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links above and prepare to adjust their COVID-19 vaccination and mask policies to comply with the ETS and its changes.