Cal/OSHA Standards Board’s COVID-19 ETS Proposal Provisions

On September 15, 2022, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will continue the long and arduous journey to establish COVID-19 safety measures in the workplace. Since the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) initial ETS took effect in November 2020, the Standards Board has addressed the evolving workplace safety challenges with a series of updates.

CDPH Issues Updated Order Drastically Changing Employers’ Obligations Under Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS

Currently, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requires employers to review and use current California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance for persons who had close contact to an individual with COVID-19, including any guidance regarding quarantine or other measures after a close contact to reduce COVID-19 transmission. On June 8, 2022, the CDPH issued a revised order with new definitions. These revised definitions are therefore immediately incorporated in to the Cal/OSHA ETS requirements for exclusion of close contacts, which in turn impact employers’ obligations under the ETS.

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.

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.

Federal OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS: Will It Change the Next ETS for California?

On November 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) was planning to update and adopt new language for the California COVID-19 ETS that would take effect in January 2022. However, California’s proposed language for the revised ETS does not match the language of OSHA’s ETS, leaving many wondering if California will now revise the proposed language to bring the California ETS into alignment with the federal standard and proceed with the “Horcher” adoption process to quickly adopt the federal OSHA requirements.

San Francisco Judge Denies Injunctive Relief Allowing Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards to Remain in Place

On February 25, 2021, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman denied applications for preliminary injunctions in their entirety requested by two plaintiffs, thus leaving in place the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). The ETS took effect on November 30, 2020.

Cal/OSHA’s ETS Under Scrutiny: California Judge Hears Oral Argument to Enjoin Enforcement

Following the implementation of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) on November 30, 2020, several employers and trade associations filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court for declaratory and injunctive relief against Cal/OSHA. The lawsuit, National Retail Federation, et al. v. California Department of Industrial Relations, et al. (Case No. CGC20588367), was the first filed seeking to prevent the agency from enforcing the ETS.

Cal/OSHA Recommends Emergency COVID-19 Regulation With PPE and Training Provisions

On May 20, 2020, worker advocates submitted a petition for an emergency COVID-19 safety standard demanding additional COVID-19 regulations for those employees not covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard . The ATD standard was codified in 2009 “to protect employees who are at increased risk of contracting certain airborne infections due to their work activities.” The petition included specific requests to adopt standards related to social distancing, ventilation systems, personal hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), employee training, and recordkeeping.

California Judge Grants TRO Related to COVID-19 Risks at Fast-Food Restaurant

On June 16, 2020, several employees at a McDonald’s franchise in Oakland, California filed a lawsuit against their employer, in a matter entitled Hernandez v. VES McDonald’s (No. RG20064825, Superior Court of California, County of Alameda). The lawsuit consists of five plaintiffs, three of whom are employees who allege that they became sick with COVID-19 while working at the restaurant and “unknowingly” spread the disease to family and other members in their communities.