July 24, 2021

Volume XI, Number 205

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California Safety Board Narrows Emergency Temporary Standards (Effective Immediately)

As we previously reported (here), Cal/OSHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“OSHSB”) held a series of special meetings to revise its controversial Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  And, on June 17, 2021, OSHSB approved updated ETS language that more closely aligns California’s workplace safety requirements with recommendations from the CDC and California Department of Public Health.

Most significantly, the revised ETS permit fully vaccinated employees to unmask indoors. Unvaccinated employees still must mask up while indoors (except in limited circumstances), but neither vaccinated nor unvaccinated employees are required to wear face coverings when outside, except during an outbreak.  The revised ETS also dropped previous social distancing requirements for all employees, except in limited circumstances (e.g., where unvaccinated employees are eating and drinking), and remove restrictions on sharing personal items and equipment.  Furthermore, fully vaccinated employees, and others who had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, will no longer be required to quarantine after coming into contact with someone with COVID-19, so long as they are asymptomatic.

According to OSHSB’s FAQs, employers must document employees’ vaccination status in one of three ways: (1) by obtaining a copy of employees’ proof of vaccination; (2) creating a record of employees who presented proof of vaccination; or (3) creating a record of employee self-attestations as to vaccination status (i.e., the “honor system”).

Although generally more reasonable, the new ETS still impose some rather unusual and burdensome obligations on employers, including a requirement that employers procure and offer respirator masks (e.g., N-95s) to unvaccinated employees.  The new ETS also require employers to make testing available to symptomatic unvaccinated employees, at no cost to the employees.  Further, the updated ETS preserve the requirement that employers develop written COVID-19 Prevention Programs.

Per an Executive Order signed by Gov. Newsom on June 17, 2021, the new ETS take effect immediately.  Therefore, employers should move quickly to implement the new requirements.

 

© 2021 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 170
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About this Author

Anthony J Oncidi, Employment Attorney, Proskauer Rose Law Firm
Partner

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office. Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection....

310-284-5690
Kate Gold Labor and Employment Lawyer Proskauer
Partner

Kate Gold is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department in the Los Angeles office.

Kate has over 25 years of experience representing clients in a range of industries, across all areas of employment law.  An experienced litigator, she has represented clients in all types of employment-related suits, including class and collective actions, discrimination, retaliation and harassment, non-compete and wage/hour matters.  In addition to litigating, she conducts high-level workplace investigations and routinely counsels clients on matters involving the full range of state and...

+1.310.284.5623
Phillipe Lebel labor & Employment Attorney Los Angeles Proskauer Law Firm
Associate

Philippe (Phil) A. Lebel represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, trade secrets, and breach of contract litigation, in both the single-plaintiff and class-action context, at both the trial and appellate level, and before administrative agencies. Phil also represents employers in connection with labor law matters, such as labor arbitrations and proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board. Additionally, Phil counsels clients to ensure compliance with federal...

+1.310.284.4558
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