In June I wrote an article for CEO Monthly about having a COVID Prevention Plan (CPP). It is that time again because Cal/OSHA just voted to “re-adopt” the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for a second time – but this latest move introduces some significant changes for California employers.
The new ETS will be in effect from January 14, 2022, through the middle of April and is expected to be extended for the rest of the year.
WHAT ARE THE TOP THINGS CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW ETS?
- Revised Definitions: Cal/OSHA has changed
a number of relevant definitions including:
- Covid-19 Tests
- Face coverings
- Fully vaccinated
- Covid Prevention Plan: Employers must have a Written COVID-19 Prevention Program that includes policies for identifying and evaluating COVID-19 hazards in the workplace.
- Screening: If the employer conducts screening indoors at the workplace, face coverings must now be worn by both screeners and employees, regardless of vaccination status.
- Post Exposure Notification: Employers are required to provide notice of a potential COVID-19 exposure to all employees. The re-adoption clarified that this notice must
be provided to “all employees who were on the premises at the same worksite as the COVID-19 case during the high-risk exposure period.
- Post-Exposure Testing: Post-exposure testing must be made available to asymptomatic fully vaccinated employees. Previously, employers were not required to provide testing for fully vaccinated employees unless they experienced COVID-19 symptoms.
- Exclusion of COVID-19 Cases and Close Contacts: One of the biggest changes in the re-adoption is the exclusion of COVID-19 cases and close contacts. Employers have raised concerns that maintaining and enforcing social distancing and face covering requirements on an individual employee-by-employee basis is not practical. You could be faced with some employees who are required to social distance while others are not, changing on an almost-daily basis, however, employers must do
their best to comply with this requirement.
- Return to Work Following Close Contacts: The new guidance applies to all employees and has shortened the isolation/quarantine period with a negative test and new rules for employees who test positive.
- Multiple COVID-19 Infections and COVID-19 Outbreaks: An outbreak is defined as three or more employees COVID-19 cases within the exposed group and a major outbreak is 20 or more employees. Previously, employers did not have to make testing available to fully vaccinated employees if they did not exhibit symptoms. Now, if a company faces multiple COVID-19 infections or a COVID-19 outbreak, the employer must make testing available to employees in the exposed group, even if they are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
In the meantime, employers should adopt the following steps to ensure compliance with these changes:
- Review the changes to the ETS carefully with your HR consultants or employment law counsel.
- Add booster information to the vaccine information you collect.
- Review your Written Plan COVID Prevention Program, notices and other policies that need to be modified.
All employers in CA, no matter how many employees you have, must have a written CPP with the appropriate 11 notices. The CPP and notices must be current and reviewed monthly if there are any changes from CA, the Federal government and local jurisdictions.
If you do not currently have a CPP or have one that has not been updated JorgensenHR can assist you with becoming compliant and limiting the possibility of lawsuits from your
employees or fines and penalties from government regulatory agencies.