Cal/OSHA Updates COVID-19 ETS FAQs and Issues Fact Sheet for California Employers

On May 7, 2022, the day after the latest revision to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) went into effect, Cal/OSHA issued updated answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a fact sheet. The FAQs continue to evolve and change with each revision and readoption of the ETS. The FAQs now reflect the updated definitions, processes, and changes to the quarantine requirements for close contacts.

Cal/OSHA’s Third Revision to COVID-19 ETS to Be Approved by May 6, 2022

As we previously reported, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board recently voted to adopt the proposed revisions to California’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS). Reports initially stated that the Office of Administrative Law would likely approve the language for implementation by May 5, 2022. This date has since changed to May 6, 2022.

Cal/OSHA Standards Board Adopts Third COVID-19 ETS to Remain in Effect Until December 31, 2022

On April 21, 2022, by a 6-1 vote, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to adopt the proposed revisions to the current COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS). The only no vote was from a management representative. The Office of Administrative Law is likely to approve the new language for implementation by May 5, 2022.

Federal Court Enjoins Enforcement of Montana Law That Conflicts With CMS Vaccine Rule

On March 18, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana issued a preliminary injunction in Montana Medical Association v. Knudsen, enjoining enforcement of part of Montana’s vaccination law against “all Montana health care facilities and individual practitioners and clinics” subject to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

California’s AB 2243 Would Revise Heat Illness and Wildfire Smoke Standards

On February 10, 2022, California Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, along with assembly members Luz Rivas and Robert Rivas, introduced Assembly Bill (AB) No. 2243, which would place a number of requirements on the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) in the areas of heat illness and wildfire smoke.

New York City Private Employer Vaccination Mandate Remains, but Exemptions Expanded for Athletes and Performing Artists

On March 24, 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed Emergency Executive Order No. 62, which expands an exemption to New York’s vaccination order for private-sector workers to include athletes and performing artists who reside in New York City. The executive order takes effect immediately.

Ontario’s Bill 88 Would Establish Electronic Monitoring Policies, Create Rights for Workers on Digital Platforms, and Require Naloxone Kits

On February 28, 2022, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 88, the Working for Workers Act, 2022. Bill 88 would enact the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022, which would establish rights for workers who offer services through digital platforms. In addition, Bill 88 would amend a number of statutes including the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

OSHA Announces Intent to Focus Inspections in Healthcare Facilities With Attention on COVID-19 Healthcare ETS

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) remains focused on the pandemic in certain workplaces as indicated by its announcement of a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) related to COVID-19. Interestingly, the focus of the NEP includes checking to confirm that certain elements of the COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard (ETS) are in place.

Indiana Approves Restrictions on Employer Vaccine Mandates: What Employers Need to Know

On March 3, 2022, the Indiana General Assembly passed House Bill 1001, which restricts employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The final version of the bill was signed right away by Governor Eric Holcomb and is effective immediately. The law’s most notable provisions require covered employers to accept (under certain conditions) medical, religious, and acquired immunity exemptions from vaccine mandates, and to allow employees with exemptions to submit to COVID-19 testing in lieu of immunization.

California Governor Newsom Aligns Cal/OSHA Face Covering Regulations With CDPH Guidance

On February 28, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that updates the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) to align with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance on face coverings for indoor locations issued the same day.

California Unmasks—California Department of Public Health Revises Guidance for Use of Face Masks in Indoor Settings

On February 28, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance, further loosening the rules for wearing COVID-19–related masks in the state. Effective March 1, 2022, unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to mask in indoor public settings, although the CDPH included “a strong recommendation” that all individuals, “regardless of vaccine status, continue indoor masking.”

Los Angeles County and City COVID-19 Masking Orders Move Closer to California Department of Public Health Rules

On February 23, 2022, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) issued an order, effective February 25, 2022, that slightly loosened the rules for wearing COVID-19 masks in the county. One day after the LACDPH order, on February 24, 2022, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the interim “Public Order Under City of Los Angeles Emergency Authority” that mirrored the new Los Angeles County order. While these revisions make the orders from both the county and city much more similar to the California state masking rules currently in effect, they remain stricter than the current state rules.

Minnesota Extends Workers’ Compensation Presumption for Frontline Workers Who Test Positive for COVID-19

On February 4, 2022, Governor Tim Walz signed House File (H.F.) 1203 into law, which extends the presumption that certain frontline healthcare workers contracted COVID-19 at work if they test positive. The prior presumption had expired on December 31, 2021.

California Considers Assembly Bill 1993 Requiring Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Status in Employment

On February 10, 2022, Assembly Bill (AB) 1993 was introduced in the California legislature. This bill would amend certain COVID-19 vaccination requirements in employment settings and create a framework for California employers to be responsible for vaccination programs in their workplaces.

German Court Rules Occupational Accidents at Home May Be Covered by Statutory Accident Insurance

In the past, Germany’s Federal Social Court (Bundessozialgericht or BSG) has been reluctant to classify employee accidents that employees sustain in their homes as occupational accidents covered by the statutory accident insurance. A decision of the Federal Social Court on December 8, 2021 (file no. B 2 U 4/21) clarified that the initial journey from bed to a home office constitutes an occupational accident and thus is considered covered by the statutory accident insurance.

Oregon OSHA to Promulgate Rules Addressing Employee Exposure to Wildfire Smoke

From 2020 through 2021, wildfires burned more than 1.5 million acres of land in Oregon. To put things in perspective, the area that burned was approximately seven times the size of New York City. Wildfire smoke can contain hazardous small particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs, causing a range of health problems. On September 11, 2020, wildfire smoke caused Portland’s air quality to rank worst among major cities across the world with an air quality index (AQI) of 349, a level that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency characterizes as “hazardous.” Unsurprisingly, Oregon is taking measures to address the health risks associated with exposure to wildfire smoke, and the state is expected to soon join California in adopting related regulations.

New California Bill Aims to Supersize Fast-Food Workers’ Rights

On January 31, 2022, the California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill (AB) No. 257, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (FAST Recovery Act), which would potentially provide increased rights to the state’s more than 500,000 fast-food workers. If passed by the California State Senate and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the FAST Recovery Act would create the Fast Food Sector Council within the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and add new statutory requirements aimed at holding fast-food franchisors liable for certain actions of its franchisees.

OSHA Formally Withdraws Its COVID-19 ETS

On January 25, 2022, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formally withdrew its November 5, 2021, emergency temporary standard (ETS), which applied to large employees. Since its issuance in November, the OSHA ETS has been the subject of numerous legal challenges, ultimately resulting in a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to stay enforcement of the ETS indefinitely pending adjudication of legal challenges at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

California’s Governor Newsom to Bring Back COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

On January 25, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom and California legislative leaders announced they have reached an agreement to require employers again to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL), which expired on September 30, 2021.

Nevada OSHA Targets Hospitality Industry

Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Nevada OSHA) is performing targeted inspections of Nevada’s hospitality establishments. Even though Nevada OSHA’s “Inspection Targeting Plan and Emphasis Programs” document was last updated in August 2021, the programmed inspections are continuing with local emphasis programs related to hotels (NAICS 721110) and casino-hotels (NAICS 721120).

 

New York Appellate Court Stays Mask Mandate Injunction

On January 25, 2022, the New York Appellate Division, Second Department granted a stay of a Nassau County trial court’s injunction of the enforcement of the state’s mask mandate, which went into effect on December 13, 2021. The mandate, which was announced by Governor Kathy Hochul on December 10, 2021, required that masks be worn in indoor public spaces, unless a covered businesses had implemented a mandatory vaccination requirement.