The Cal/OSHA Standards Board is scheduled to have a special meeting on June 9, 2021, at 5:00 pm. The purpose of the special meeting is for the board to consider new information from the California Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA on pending guidance regarding COVID-19 prevention and take action if needed. The agenda can be found here.

On June 3, 2021, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board readopted revised COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards. These revised standards are expected to go into effect no later than June 15, 2021, upon approval by the Office of Administrative Law Judge, with other provisions going into effect July 1, 2021.

The revised standards include protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers and masking and social distancing requirements that differ from current U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, along with other modifications based on Governor Newsom’s June 15, 2021, timeframe to retire the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Changes to the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards:

  • Respirators for unvaccinated employees: Beginning July 31, 2021, employers are required to provide filtering facepiece respirators (i.e., N95 masks) for their voluntary use to all employees who have not provided documentation that indicates they are fully vaccinated and who work indoors or at large outdoor events.
  • Face Coverings: Employers are still required to provide face coverings and ensure face coverings are worn when indoors, when outdoors and less than six feet away from others, and where otherwise required by state or local health orders. Exceptions: when an employee is either alone in a room or when all persons in a room are fully vaccinated, employees who wear filtering facepiece respirators as required by other sections, and employees who are fully vaccinated when they are outdoors and do not have any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Physical Distancing: After July 31, 2021, employers can eliminate physical distancing and partitions/barriers, except during outbreaks. Employers are expected to continue providing unvaccinated employees with respirators for voluntary use.
  • Exclusion from the Workplace: Fully vaccinated employees without symptoms no longer need to be excluded from the workplace after exposure to COVID-19; however, those who test positive for COVID-19 must still be excluded from the workplace until the return-to-work requirements are met.
  • Documentation for Fully Vaccinated: Employers will now be required to have documentation showing a person is “fully vaccinated.” However, there is no definition or clarification of what “documentation” means. Employers are not required to maintain an actual copy of an employee’s vaccination card but can choose to do so. Cal/OSHA will follow up with further clarity and examples of acceptable documentation through updated FAQs.
  • Prevention Program: Employers are still required to maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program but there are some key changes to the requirements:
    • 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.
  • Testing for Non-Vaccinated Symptomatic Employees: Employers must make COVID-19 testing available at no cost during paid time to employees with COVID-19 symptoms who are not fully vaccinated.

What’s Next?

Since these revised standards remain stricter than the current CDC guidance, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board appointed a three-person committee to work with Cal/OSHA staff on future revisions. We will continue to provide updates as warranted.


Department of Industrial Relations Press Release

Standards Presentation to Cal/OSHA Standards Board