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December 2022: Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board Votes to Adopt COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations

28 Dec

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Update Applicable to: 
All employers in the state of California.

What happened?
On December 15, 2023, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board today adopted the COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations.

What are the details? 
The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards will remain in effect while the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) reviews the proposed Non-Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations. The OAL has 30 working days to complete its review; if approved by OAL, the new regulations will remain in effect for two years.

Notable provisions include

  • COVID workplace measures: Employers are legally obligated to provide and maintain a safe and healthy workplace for employees by preventing COVID-19 exposure. Employers must maintain an effective written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) that addresses COVID-19 as a workplace hazard and includes measures to prevent workplace transmission, employee training, and methods for responding to COVID-19 cases at the workplace. Employers may address COVID-19 workplace measures within their written IIPP or in a separate document.
  • COVID Testing: Employers must make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during the paid time to employees following close contact, except for returned cases.
  • Ventilation: For all indoor locations, regardless of size, employers must review applicable CDPH guidance and implement effective measures to prevent transmission through improved filtration and ventilation.
  • Close Contact Definition: Close contact is defined by the size of the workplace:
  • For indoor spaces of 400,000 or fewer cubic feet per floor, close contact is defined as sharing the same indoor airspace as a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over 24 hours during the COVID-19 case’s infectious period, as defined in the regulations, regardless of the use of face coverings.
  • For indoor spaces of greater than 400,000 cubic feet per floor, close contact is defined as being within six feet of the COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over 24 hours during the COVID-19 case’s infectious period, as defined in the regulations, regardless of the use of face coverings.
  • Offices, suites, rooms, waiting for areas, break or eating areas, bathrooms, or other spaces separated by floor-to-ceiling walls shall be considered indoor spaces.
  • Infectious Period Definition: The regulations use the definition of “infectious period” found in the most recent California Department of Public Health (CDPH) State Public Health Officer Order.

Cal/OSHA is updating its resources to assist employers with understanding their obligations required by the COVID-19 Prevention Regulations. The COVID-19 Prevention Resources webpage contains an executive summary that describes the regulations. Cal/OSHA will publish an updated set of FAQs and model programs when the new regulation becomes effective.

For more information, please see the links below:

COVID 19 Prevention Non-Emergency Final Text

California DIR New Release

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links above and be prepared to continue complying with California COVID-19 laws until more news is received.

Need help understanding how changes to employment laws will affect your business?

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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