Effective February 3, 2023, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board’s (Cal-OSHA) non-emergency COVID-19 prevention regulations replace the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). These regulations include some of the same requirements found in the ETS, as well as new provisions which makes it easier for employers to provide consistent protections to workers and allow for flexibility if changes to guidance are made by the California Department of Public Health in the future.
The regulations require employers to create, implement and maintain a COVID-19 workplace hazard program, but they no longer require employers to maintain a standalone COVID-19 Prevention Plan. Instead, employers have the option to include their program details in their existing Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or in a separate document.
Some of the notable changes in the regulations, which differ from the ETS, include:
- A change in the definition of “close contact” which will vary based on the size of the indoor worksite;
- The discontinuance of requiring daily health screenings;
- A change in training requirements; employers are no longer required to provide training based on the specific content in the ETS but must train employees on the standards for IIPPs;
- A change in the definition of the “infectious period” and shortening of the infectious period based on symptomatic and asymptomatic cases;
- A change in the requirement for employers to pay employees who are excluded from work. Instead, employers are required to provide employees with information regarding COVID-19 related benefits they may be entitled to under federal, state or local laws or any company-sponsored leave policies;
- A requirement to report major outbreaks to Cal-OSHA; and
- Increased ventilation standards; employers are required to increase ventilation via one of the following:
- Maximizing outside air;
- Using MERV-13 filters; or
- Using standalone HEPA filters.
The regulations will remain in effect until February 3, 2025, unless further extended.
Next Steps for Employers
While the non-emergency regulations share similarities with the ETS, because there are notable differences, employers are encouraged to review the new regulations to ensure they are in compliance. Cal-OSHA has issued guidance for employers in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs). Additional information and resources are also available on Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations page, which has a fact sheet and a model prevention plan.