On August 13, 2021, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) updated its “Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.”  The updated guidance, which does not apply to healthcare workplace settings covered by OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, reflects recent changes to the guidance for fully vaccinated individuals published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) on July 27, 2021.  Among the updates discussed below, the most notable changes are the modified recommendations for fully vaccinated employees.  OSHA advises that employers should use the guidance to ensure they protect unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.

Continue Reading OSHA Updates COVID-19 Guidance to Align With Recently Updated CDC Guidance

On June 17, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board voted to adopt revisions to the Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), and Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order allowing the revised ETS to go into effect immediately.  The revised ETS now applies to nearly all workers in California not covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard. Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Finally Enacts Revised Emergency Temporary Standards

UPDATE:  At its June 9, 2021, special meeting, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board voted to withdraw the revisions to the Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) that had been approved at its June 3rd meeting, and were set to go into effect on June 15th.  Instead, Cal/OSHA indicated that it will further consider the recent guidance from the CDC and the California Department of Public Health with respect to face coverings for fully vaccinated individuals.  For now, the original ETS that has been effective since November of 2020 will remain in place.  The Standards Board will convene to consider potential further revisions at a future meeting, perhaps as early as its next scheduled meeting on June 17th.   Stay tuned for further updates.

After several fits and starts, on June 3, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board finally passed revised Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) that now take into account employee vaccination status and loosening restrictions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and California’s elimination of the colored Tier system.  The revised ETS will go into effect on June 15, 2021 and creates additional employer obligations beginning on July 31, 2021.  The Cal/OSHA Standards Board has indicated that it will convene a subcommittee to consider further revisions in the coming months. Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Approves Revised Emergency Temporary Standards

UPDATE:  At its May 20, 2021, meeting, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board agreed to table its vote on the proposed revised Emergency Temporary Standards to allow Division staff time to draft potential revisions that would more closely align Cal/OSHA’s requirements with the CDC’s latest guidance concerning face coverings for fully vaccinated individuals.  Proposed draft revisions will be posted by May 28, 2021, and that draft will come up for a vote on June 3, 2021.  If approved, the revised ETS would become effective on June 15, 2021.  We will provide further details as they arise.

Prompted by increased availability of vaccine appointments, and broad eligibility for all U.S. adults and teenagers, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) have loosened restrictions with respect to fully vaccinated individuals, defined as those who are two weeks past their final required vaccination dose (second dose of either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, or single dose of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine).  Cal/OSHA now proposes to align itself with this guidance through proposed revisions to its Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”), which have been effective since November of 2020, just prior to the pandemic’s winter peak. Continue Reading Significant Updates to Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards on the Horizon

On March 12, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) launched its new COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (“NEP”).  The new OSHA directive outlines policies and procedures for minimizing worker exposures to COVID-19 by targeting certain “high-hazard” industries and worksites where employees may have a high frequency of close contact exposures.  The NEP and related updates to OSHA’s Interim Enforcement Response Plan (“IERP”) are in response to President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order, which also gave OSHA until March 15 to determine whether a COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (“ETS”) is necessary.  Although March 15 has come and gone, OSHA may nevertheless still consider and implement a national ETS.  In the meantime, employers should review the information below and familiarize themselves with the NEP to determine whether they may be targeted for a COVID-19-related federal OSHA inspection this spring and summer. Continue Reading OSHA Adopts New COVID-19 National Emphasis Program to Increase Its Enforcement Efforts

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted its Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) on COVID-19 prevention in the workplace on November 19, 2020, which we covered here.  Shortly after their adoption, the ETS became binding and enforceable against nearly all California employers effective November 30, 2020.  The next day, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) published frequently asked questions to provide guidance to employers on compliance with the extensive requirements under the ETS.  In light of significant pushback from employers finding themselves needing to deal with complications arising from near-immediate compliance, Cal/OSHA recently published additional guidance and clarifications to impacted employers.  The complete and comprehensive set of is available here, but key takeaways are below: Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Provides New Guidance for California Employers to Comply With COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

On November 19, 2020, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board unanimously adopted emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 prevention in the workplace.  For much of the pandemic, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) has advised employers to follow its general and industry-specific guidance on various measures to implement to minimize the risk of employees’ exposure to COVID-19.  However, the new emergency standards will be binding and enforceable against nearly all California employers.  The emergency standards will become effective immediately on November 30, 2020, if approved as expected by the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) after the required 10-day review period.  Thus, employers must act quickly to ensure they are in compliance with the new standards and the requirement to prepare and implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program. Continue Reading Cal/OSHA Adopts New COVID-19 Emergency Standards Requiring Immediate Action by Employers in California

On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 685 into law, establishing new requirements for employers to notify employees and their unions about a potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.  The new law, which will be in effect from January 1, 2021, until January 1, 2023, also requires employers to report a COVID-19 “outbreak” at the worksite to local health authorities.  Further, AB 685 relaxes the pre-citation requirements that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) must follow before issuing a citation for a serious violation related to COVID-19.  This article breaks down the various requirements of the new law and identifies potential complications or issues that employers should be aware of when attempting to comply with the new requirements. Continue Reading Enactment of AB 685 Establishes COVID-19 Exposure Notice Requirements for California Employers and Cal/OSHA Enforcement Changes

On July 2, 2020, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published an FAQ web page based on COVID-19 related inquiries that the agency received from the public.  The FAQ page provides a central location for information and links on a variety of topics related to best practices to ensure worker safety and protect workers’ rights during the ongoing pandemic.  Although the majority of the guidance contained in OSHA’s responses is not new, employers should review the FAQ page to ensure their health and safety policies and procedures follow OSHA’s recommendations.  This article lists the topics covered by the new FAQ page and identifies a few topics that may be of particular interest to employers. Continue Reading OSHA Publishes Responses to Frequently Asked Questions on Worker Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic

On June 17, 2020, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued its “Guidance on Returning to Work.”  This new guidance is intended to supplement the previous “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” that OSHA published in March.  Most non-essential businesses throughout the country have already reopened and returned at least some portion of their workforce to the workplace.  However, with the risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19 still present, employers must continue to monitor and follow new and evolving federal, state, and local guidance aimed at protecting the safety and health of employees.  OSHA’s new guidance contains “guiding principles” that OSHA recommends employers incorporate into their reopening plans.  In addition, the new guidance provides OSHA’s responses to frequently asked questions on testing and screening employees and identifies specific OSHA standards and requirements that are applicable to minimizing occupational exposure to COVID-19.  Because much of the new guidance deals with mitigation measures that many employers have already implemented, this article seeks to assist employers with understanding specific directives and concerns in the guidance that are new or may have been overlooked previously. Continue Reading OSHA Issues New COVID-19 Guidance Answering Practical Questions on Returning to Work