Cal/OSHA Updates FAQs Following Third Readoption of COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

By Megan S. Shaked

Now that Cal/OSHA’s Third Readoption of the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard is in effect, the agency has updated its Frequently Asked Questions to reflect those revisions effective May 6, 2022.  (See our previous blog articles regarding the revisions in the Third Readoption and the Board vote to approve the readoption.)

Many of the updated FAQs simply reflect the revised ETS language itself, for example, removing references to vaccination status as the ETS requirements are no longer dependent on such status.  The FAQs have also been updated to reflect the current terminology used in the Third Readoption, for example, using “infections period” instead of “high risk exposure period.”

However, some of the updated Frequently Asked Questions provide added clarity regarding the current requirements: Read More

Cal/OSHA Standards Board Approves Third Re-Adoption of COVID-19 Emergency Rule

As expected, on April 21st the Cal/OSHA Standards Board voted to adopt the proposed third re-adoption of the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard.  The Board voted 6-1, with management representative Kathleen Crawford casting the sole no vote.  The new rule iteration is set to take effect on about May 2, 2022, once approved by the Office of Administrative Law, and will remain in effect until December 31, 2022.  As mentioned in our prior blog post, the third re-adoption retains the core elements of the emergency rule but with various substantive changes.

DOSH Deputy Chief Eric Berg, in his briefing to the Board ahead of the vote, indicated that there will be FAQs issued to address the re-adoption.  He also noted, in light of concerns over employees refusing testing, that employers can require testing.  He cited the current Cal/OSHA FAQs referencing the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s FAQ on this topic. Read More

Cal/OSHA Issues Revised COVID-19 Emergency Rule – Third Re-Adoption

By Andrew J. Sommer and Fred Walter

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has just released a proposed draft for the third re-adoption COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).  The Board will vote on the proposed rule at its next meeting on April 21, 2022, and the text is expected to be approved.  This new rule will remain in effect until December 31, 2022, after which time the Board may consider a permanent infectious disease standard for general industry – presenting another battle to be waged.  Here is a redlined draft showing  changes from the current emergency rule.

Some of the changes in this draft ETS are minor, while others are quite substantive.  Here are some highlights: Read More

Cal/OSHA Enforcement and Regulatory Update [Webinar Recording]

On Tuesday, March 15, 2022, Andrew Sommer, Fred Walter, and Megan Shaked presented a webinar regarding a Cal/OSHA Enforcement and Regulatory Update.

This has been a challenging year for California employers navigating the COVID-19 pandemic with a set of ever-changing regulatory requirements, as well as a flurry of other new workplace safety laws the legislature passed towards the end of 2021.  This update covered the latest legislative and rulemaking developments concerning COVID-19, including the second re-adopted COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard.  We also covered other laws creating new workplace safety requirements and expanding the Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (DOSH) enforcement authority.

During this webinar, participants learned about: Read More

CDC Relaxes Face Covering and Distancing Guidelines

By Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s COVID-19 Task Force

As governors and big city mayors across the country have been allowing indoor masking mandates to expire over the last few weeks, last Friday, February 25th, the CDC unveiled a brand new approach to assessing COVID-19 risks and setting mask and distancing recommendations.   The CDC’s old tool, which measured the number of COVID-19 cases to determine the relevant level of virus transmission in each community had lost its usefulness as it rendered nearly the entire country as high-risk (95% of all counties), even as the number of people getting seriously ill had dropped precipitously this year.

CDC’s new guidelines measure the impact the pandemic by looking at three factors week over week:

  1. New cases per capita (as with the prior guidelines); but also
  2. New COVID-19 related hospital admissions; and
  3. The percentage of area hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Each county will have a weekly “COVID Community Level Rating” that is either Low (green), Medium (yellow) or High (orange).  Each level/color has recommended mitigation strategies, set in the table below:

Here is a link to CDC’s tool to identify the level of COVID-19 transmission in your county.

The big news is that CDC recommends Read More

Paid COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave Returns to California, Again

By Megan S. Shaked

California Governor Newsom has signed legislation extending a new allotment of up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to California workers through new Labor Code Sections 248.6 and 248.7.  The leave is retroactive to January 1, 2022, and continues through September 30, 2022.  Small businesses that employ 25 or fewer workers are not covered by the legislation.

Use of Sick Leave for Reasons Related to COVID-19

The legislation provides for up to 40 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work or telework for certain reasons related to COVID-19, including:

  • Employee is subject to quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidance of the State Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local public health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace;
  • Employee has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19;
  • Employee is attending a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster appointment for themselves or a family member;
  • Employee is experiencing symptoms, or caring for a family member experiencing symptoms, related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster;
    • (for each vaccination or booster, an employer may limit the total COVID-19 supplemental sick leave to 3 days or 24 hours unless the employee provides verification from a health care provider that the employee or family member is continuing to experience symptoms.  This includes the time to get the vaccine or booster.)
  • Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • Employee is caring for a family member who is subject to an order or guidance to quarantine or isolate or has been advised to isolate or quarantine by their health care provider;
  • Employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reason related to COVID-19 on the premises

The full 40 hours is available to Read More

California Appellate Court Rejects Challenge to COVID-19 Emergency Rule

In Western Growers Association, et al, v. Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, et al, the California appellate court recently affirmed the lower court’s decision denying a challenge to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).  This decision has far-reaching implications, affording considerable deference to the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board’s (Board) rulemaking process and authority to bypass regular rulemaking with emergency temporary standards supported by its own “declaration of emergency.”  The Board – which is tasked with promulgating workplace safety rules – has  had an oversized role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As background, the Board’s COVID-19 ETS was approved, effective November 30, 2020, over the recommendation of Board staff finding that “Cal/OSHA’s limited resources should continue to be focused on enforcement and consultation outreach specifically targeted at employers and sectors of the economy with deficient COVID-19 protections,” as this is likely to be more effective than new rulemaking.  Since then Cal/OSHA’s ETS has undergone numerous revisions, being “re-adopted” effective June 17, 2021 and then again on January 14, 2022.  The regulation has been a moving target for employers, with the Board each time adopting modified text followed by updated FAQs.   Read More

FAQs Clarify Isolation and Quarantine Periods under Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Rule

Since our blog post only a week ago concerning the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) guidance on isolation and quarantine periods and its implications for the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), the CDPH has revised this guidance (January 6, 2022) – this time clarifying quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated employees who are booster eligible, but have not yet received their booster dose.  CaptureThe updated guidance is otherwise unclear on how the other recommended actions apply to a workplace setting.

Then, late yesterday, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) issued answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on isolation and quarantine periods under Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS in light of CDPH’s January 6, 2022 recommendations.  First, for the reasons we explained in our prior blog post, DOSH has recognized that the “new isolation and quarantine recommendations from CDPH replace the exclusion periods and return to work criteria in sections 3205(c)(9) and 3205(c)(10) of the ETS.”

Second, the FAQs note that the quarantine rules for fully vaccinated workers Read More

Conn Maciel Carey’s 2022 OSHA Webinar Series

A full year into the Biden Administration, the senior leadership team at federal OSHA is set, the agency’s new regulatory agenda has been revealed, and the enforcement landscape has begun to take shape, revealing a dramatic shift in priorities, including stronger enforcement, higher budgets and more robust policies protecting workers, and a renewed focus on new rulemaking. Following an Administration that never installed an Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, relied almost exclusively on the General Duty Clause to enforce COVID-19 safety measures, drastically curtailed rulemaking, and declined to issue an emergency COVID-19 standard, the pendulum swing at OSHA has already been more pronounced than during past transitions. Accordingly, it is more important now than ever before for employers to stay attuned to developments at OSHA.

Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s complimentary 2022 OSHA Webinar Series, which includes monthly programs (sometimes more often, if events warrant) put on by the OSHA-focused attorneys in the firm’s national OSHA Practice Group, is designed to give employers insight into developments at OSHA during this period of unpredictability and significant change.

To register for an individual webinar in the series, click on the link in the program description below, or to register for the entire 2022 series, click here to send us an email request so we can get you registered.  If you missed any of our programs over the past seven years of our annual OSHA Webinar Series, here is a link to a library of webinar recordings.  If your organization or association would benefit from an exclusive program presented by our team on any of the subjects in this year’s webinar series or any other important OSHA-related topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

2022 OSHA Webinar Series – Program Schedule

Read More

Cal/OSHA Aligns with CDC’s Updated Guidance for Isolation and Quarantine Time

CDC recently updated and shortened its recommended isolation and quarantine periods for the general population. To be precise, CDC issued a media statement laying out its new guidance, but CDC’s actual Isolation Guidance webpage has not yet been updated. CDC explained in a statement that “[b]oth updates [to the isolation and quarantine periods] come as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the U.S. and reflects the current science on when and for how long a person is maximally infectious.” 

Then just yesterday, California issued public health guidance that effectively aligns the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard’s (ETS) return-to-work criteria with this CDC guidance. 

How Does CDC’s New Guidance Impact Isolation and Quarantine Periods? 

With respect to isolation (which relates to behavior after a confirmed infection), CDC states: “[g]iven what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.”  Explaining the change, CDC maintains that it is “motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days, and if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.” 

Read More
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