At the end of April, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board voted to approve the Third Readoption of the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The revised version of the ETS took effect on May 6, 2022.

As promised when passed, Cal/OSHA has released updated guidance to assist with this version of the ETS that expires January 1, 2023.

Cal/OSHA posted an update to the Revisions to the ETS FAQ. This FAQ details the changes in the May 6th version of the ETS and requirements from prior ETS that remain. There is a separate General COVID-19 ETS FAQ that responds more to the application of the ETS and has been updated to conform to the recent changes in the ETS.

The Cal/OSHA Isolation and Quarantine Fact Sheet has also been updated to reflect changes in the revised ETS. The Fact Sheet includes an easy reference table that explains when employees must be excluded from the workplace, depending on whether they test positive for COVID-19 or have close contact with positive cases.

Finally, the Cal/OSHA Fact Sheet on “What Employers Need to Know” has been updated for the amendments to the ETS that went into effect May 6th. The following is a summary:

  • Face Coverings – Face covering requirements are the same for all employees regardless of vaccination status and are no longer required in all indoor locations. The guidance now also defers to California Department of Public Health (CDPH) masking requirements.
  • Respirators – Employers must provide respirators to employees who request them for voluntary use regardless of vaccination status.
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting – The ETS no longer includes any cleaning and disinfecting requirements.
  • Testing and Exclusion
    • Employers are now required to make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during paid time to employees with COVID-19 symptoms regardless of vaccination status and regardless of whether there is a known exposure. COVID-19 testing must also be made available to employees who had a close contact in the workplace, during outbreaks, and during major outbreaks.
    • The detailed prescriptive requirements for exclusion of employees after close contact have been deleted. Instead, employers must review CPDH guidelines for individuals who had close contact and implement quarantine and other measures in the workplace to prevent COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.
    • The requirements for employees who test positive for COVID-19 have been updated to reflect the most recent CDPH isolation and quarantine guidelines. Regardless of vaccination status, positive employees can return to work after 5 days if the employee has a negative test, symptoms are improving, and they wear a face covering at work for an additional 5 days. Otherwise, most employees can return after 10 days.
  • Definitions
    • “Close contact” and “infectious period” are now defined so that their meaning will change if CDPH changes its definition of the term in a regulation or order. This will allow more flexibility and consistency with CDPH.
    • “COVID-19 test” was simplified to make it easier to use self-administered and self-read tests. A video or observation of the entire test process is no longer necessary; just a date/timestamped photo of the test result will now be sufficient.
    • “Fully vaccinated” was deleted as this term is no longer used in the regulations. All protections now apply regardless of vaccination status and requirements do not vary based on an employee’s vaccination status.

If you have questions about the Cal/OSHA ETS or related workplace safety issues, please reach out to the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you often work or any member of our Workplace Safety and Health Team.