Cal/OSHA Establishes Non-Emergency COVID-19 Preventive Regulations
Cal/OSHA Establishes Non-Emergency COVID-19 Preventive Regulations

Faced with the expiration of its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, Cal/OSHA voted to establish non-emergency standards. Once approved by the Office of Administrative Law, which is expected to take place in January of 2023, the new standards will remain in place for two years and will apply to most workers in California who are not covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard. 

The regulations continue several key ETS requirements, including complying with California Department of Public Health rules regarding face coverings, and providing respirators to employees working indoors during outbreaks upon request. Employers still must report information about employee deaths, serious injuries, and serious occupational illnesses to Cal/OSHA, consistent with existing regulations. Major COVID-19 outbreaks must also be reported to Cal/OSHA.  Employers are further required to continue to review CDPH and Cal/OSHA guidance regarding ventilation, including CDPH and Cal/OSHA Interim Guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments and develop, implement, and maintain effective methods to prevent COVID-19 transmission by improving ventilation. 

Employers are no longer required to maintain a standalone COVID-19 Prevention Plan, but should include COVID-19 as a workplace hazard in an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Employers must also continue to train employees on effective COVID-19 hazard prevention, identify COVID-19 health hazards and develop methods to prevent transmission in the workplace. 

COVID-19 testing must be made available at no cost and during paid time to employees following a close contact and to groups following an outbreak or major outbreak, and COVID-19 cases must be excluded from the workplace until they are no longer an infection risk. Investigation of COVID-19 cases and after close contact is still required, and employers must still notify affected employees of COVID-19 cases in the workplace. 

Importantly, the new COVID-19 prevention regulations do not require employers to pay employees while they are excluded from work. Instead, the regulations require employers to provide employees with information regarding COVID-19 related benefits they may be entitled to under federal, state, or local laws, employer policies, or by contract.

Some important definitions have been modified. “Close contact” is now defined by looking at the size of the workplace in which the exposure takes place. For indoor airspaces of 400,000 or fewer cubic feet, “close contact” is now defined as sharing the same indoor airspace with a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the COVID-19 case’s infectious period. For indoor airspaces of greater than 400,000 cubic feet, “close contact” is defined as being within six feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the COVID-19 case’s infectious period. “Exposed group” has been clarified to include employer-provided transportation and employees residing within employer-provided housing that are covered by the COVID-19 prevention standards.

The complete non-emergency COVID-19 preventive regulations are set forth here.


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