As the federal government and state of California adjusted their COVID-19 guidance for vaccinated individuals, Cal OSHA remained silent on how vaccination affected the requirements under its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). While there had been discussions of revisions to the ETS, it was unclear if Cal OSHA would be able to release such revisions prior to the targeted reopening of California by June 15, 2021.
Last week Cal OSHA updated its guidance on how the ETS mandatory exclusion requirements should be applied to fully vaccinated individuals. Under the guidance, employees who are not fully vaccinated must be excluded from the work site if:
- The employee is positive for COVID-19, or
- The employee had a COVID-19 exposure, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic.
As revised, the guidance now provides that a fully vaccinated employee who was exposed to COVID-19 does not have to be excluded from the workplace or quarantined, provided the employee is asymptomatic. If the fully vaccinated employee tests positive for COVID-19 or exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, the employee must be excluded from the worksite. The agency made this change based on the State of California’s Department of Public Health’s May 3rd guidance, which relieves fully vaccinated individuals from having to quarantine if they do not develop symptoms.
That said, Cal OSHA’s guidance has not relaxed any other precautions under the ETS, like mandatory employee face coverings, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection measures, and testing requirements. Cal OSHA, in fact, expects these preventive measures to remain in place for both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated individuals in the workplace.
Employers should review Cal OSHA’s revised guidance on the ETS as well as watch for frequent updates from Cal OSHA on workplace safety expectations. Cal OSHA is expected to revise the ETS in the coming weeks and release more guidance as employers start working towards the state’s reopening date on June 15, 2021.
Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor changes in COVID-19 guidance and regulations in the workplace. 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.