On June 18, 2021, Andrew J. Sommer and Eric J. Conn presented a webinar regarding Cal/OSHA’s Revised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard.
The saga around Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) has taken several bizarre twists and turns. After hurriedly adopting the ETS over Thanksgiving weekend 2020, Cal/OSHA set about this spring to fix some problems with the initial ETS regulatory text. The agency proposed a revised version of the ETS to be considered by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board in late May 2021, but on the eve of that Standards Board meeting, Cal/OSHA pulled it back, purportedly to address the CDC’s updated guidance about masks and distancing for vaccinated workers. Inexplicably, however, Cal/OSHA produced an updated proposed amended ETS that was more onerous, not less.
On June 3, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board convened a special meeting to consider the revisions to the ETS. The public meeting was long and contentious, with 100+ stakeholders testifying lasting late into the evening. Initially, the Board voted to reject the proposed revisions because the updated ETS ignored the CDC’s science-based guidance on masking and physical distancing for vaccinated individuals and required employers to indefinitely provide scarce N95 respirators to every unvaccinated worker in the state of California. However, a little later that evening, the Board voted to convene a Subcommittee to make the standard “better” and, in an about-face, reconsidered its earlier vote and adopted the proposed revisions in the interim.
Then at a special meeting held on June 9, 2021, the Standards Board voted to withdraw the recently approved revised version of the ETS. The Division is tasked with introducing by June 11th a new proposed revised ETS that better aligns with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California Department of Public Health guidance (i.e., no masking for fully vaccinated workers even if there are some unvaccinated people present). The new revised ETS will be voted on at the Board’s next scheduled meeting on June 17th and, if approved, go into effect on June 28th. Between now and June 28th, the original ETS remains in effect.
Participants in this webinar learned about the convoluted rulemaking process that has resulted in the nation’s most onerous COVID-19 regulations, as well as the most recent revisions being considered by the Standards Board at its June 17th meeting and compliance tips.
This was the 10th webinar event in Conn Maciel Carey’s 2021 OSHA Webinar Series. Click here to view our full schedule, detailed program descriptions for all of the webinars in the 2021 OSHA Webinar Series. If you missed any of our past webinars in our annual OSHA Webinar Series, click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel and view our webinar archive.
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For resources on issues related to COVID-19, please visit Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Resource Page for an extensive index of frequently asked questions with our answers about HR, employment law, and OSHA regulatory developments and guidance, as well as COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting flow charts. Likewise, subscribe to our Employer Defense Report blog and OSHA Defense Report blog for regular updates about the Labor and Employment Law or OSHA implications of COVID-19 in the workplace. Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force is monitoring federal, state, and local developments closely and is continuously updating these blogs and the FAQ page with the latest news and resources for employers.