This past Wednesday, Governor Newsom announced that California would reopen after being in lockdown for over a year due to COVID-19. Gone is Governor’s Stay at Home Executive Order. Gone is California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. And gone is the state’s somewhat confusing four-tier, yellow (minimal), orange (moderate), red (substantial) and purple (widespread), risk-level mapping system.
So what does this mean for the construction industry?
Well it’s not quite business back to usual. CalOSHA’s Standards Board voted this past Thursday to pass revised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“Revised Standards”). That same day, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-09-21 implementing the Revised Standards immediately while they are being reviewed by the Office of Administrative Law.
When Do the Revised Standards Take Effect?
The Revised Standards take effect immediately, although they are subject to review by the Office of Administrative Law, so there could be changes in the future.
Who Do the Revised Standards Apply to?
The Revised Standards apply to all employers in California.
What are the Requirements Under the Revised Standards?
The Revised Standards include the following requirements:
- Face Coverings: Workers without COVID-19 symptoms, whether indoors or outdoors and irrespective of vaccination status, will no longer be required to wear face coverings except in the case of an outbreak (i.e., 3 or more cases in an exposed group of employees), and in certain settings when required by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), such as public transit, K-12 educational facilities, etc..
- Respirators: Employers are required to provide respirators for voluntary use to all workers who are not fully vaccinated and who are working indoors or in vehicles with more than one (1) person and to all workers, irrespective of vaccination status, during a major outbreak (i.e., 20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees). Respirators must be a respiratory device approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to protect the wearer from particulate matter, such as an N95 filtering facepiece respirator.
- Physical Distancing: Physical distancing and barriers are no longer required. However, employers are to evaluate whether to implement physical distancing and barriers during an outbreak, and during a major outbreak, employers must implement physical distancing and barriers.
- Cleaning Procedures: Employers are required to continue identifying and regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects. Employer are required to inform employees and authorized employee representatives of cleaning and disinfection protocols including the planned frequency and scope of cleaning and disinfecting.
- COVID-19 Prevention Program: Employers are still required to maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program. However, employers must now review the CDPH’s Interim Guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments. COVID-19 prevention training must also include information on how the vaccine is effective at preventing COVID-19 and protecting against both transmission and serious illness or death.
- Exclusion from the Workplace: Fully vaccinated workers who do not have COVID-19 symptoms no longer need to be excluded from the workplace after a close contact (i.e., within six (6) feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more during any 24-hour).
Where Can I Get Further Information?
CalOSHA has published a FAQ on the Revised Standards. Because the Revised Standards were only implemented yesterday it is expected that the FAQs will be updated regularly.