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CalOSHA Retracts Recent Facemask Guidelines


Last night the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board withdrew the revisions to Cal/OSHA's COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards that they had previously approved June 3rd. At this time, the protections adopted in November of 2020 will remain in effect. Cal/OSHA will review new mask guidance and bring any recommended revisions to the Board at a future meeting, perhaps as early as the regular meeting on June 17th. In the meantime, CalOSHA and the CDPH are working to publish guidelines that align closer together.


These temporary standards apply to most workers in California not covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard. Under these regulations, employers must have a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan that addresses the following:

  • System for communicating information to employees about COVID-19 prevention procedures, testing, symptoms and illnesses, including a system for employees to report exposures without fear of retaliation.

  • Identification and evaluation of hazards – screening employees for symptoms, identifying workplace conditions and practices that could result in potential exposure.

  • Investigating and responding to cases in the workplace – responding immediately to potential exposures by following steps to determine who may have been exposed, providing notice within one business day about potential exposures, and offering testing to workers who may have been exposed.

  • Correcting COVID-19 hazards – including correcting unsafe conditions and work practices as well as providing effective training and instruction.

  • Physical distancing – implementing procedures to ensure workers stay at least six feet apart from other people if possible.

  • Face coverings – providing face coverings and ensuring they are worn.

  • Adopting site-specific strategies such as changes to the workplace and work schedules and providing personal protective equipment to reduce exposure to the virus.

  • Positive COVID-19 case and illness recording requirements and making the COVID-19 Prevention Plan accessible to employees and employee representatives.

  • Removal of COVID-19 exposed workers and COVID-19 positive workers from the workplace with measures to protect pay and benefits.

  • Criteria for employees to return to work after recovering from COVID-19.

  • Requirements for testing and notifying public health departments of workplace outbreaks (three or more cases in a workplace in a 14-day period) and major outbreaks (20 or more cases within a 30-day period).

  • Specific requirements for infection prevention in employer-provided housing and transportation to and from work.


The first round of revised standards found in the Press Release on June 4th were the first updates to Cal/OSHA’s temporary COVID-19 prevention requirements that were adopted in November 2020. The revised emergency standards were expected to go into effect no later than June 15th if approved by the Office of Administrative Law within the following 10 calendar days, with some specific provisions going into effect starting on July 31, 2021. The revised updates below were approved and then retracted on June 9th as noted above.

Notable revisions included the following:

Face Coverings:

· Indoors, fully vaccinated workers without COVID-19 symptoms do not need to wear face coverings in a room where everyone else is fully vaccinated and not showing symptoms. However, where there is a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons in a room, all workers will continue to be required to wear a face covering.

· Outdoors, fully vaccinated workers without symptoms do not need to wear face coverings. However, outdoor workers who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a face covering when they are less than six feet away from another person.

Physical Distancing: When the revised standards take effect, employers can eliminate physical distancing and partitions/barriers for employees working indoors and at outdoor mega events if they

provide respirators, such as N95s, to unvaccinated employees for voluntary use. After July 31, physical distancing and barriers are no longer required (except during outbreaks), but employers must provide all unvaccinated employees with N95s for voluntary use.

Prevention Program: Employers are still required to maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program but there are some key changes to requirements:

· Employers must review the California Department of Public Health’s Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.

· COVID-19 prevention training must now 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.

-Brittney Sherman

CEO President

Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce

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