On May 19, 2021, on the eve of a vote by the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt proposed substantial changes to the existing Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), Deputy Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (commonly known as “Cal/OSHA”) Eric Berg asked that the Standards Board not vote the next day, on May 20, 2021, to adopt Cal/OSHA’s proposed ETS revisions. Cal/OSHA had published the draft ETS proposal on May 7, 2021. Berg asked that the Standards Board allow Cal/OSHA to present a new proposal at a future meeting with a targeted effective date of June 15, 2021, for its new proposal.
Cal/OSHA explained that on May 13, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance to allow fully-vaccinated individuals to forego masks in some situations. Cal/OSHA also explained that four days after the CDC’s announcement, on May 17, 2021, the California Health & Human Services Agency secretary had expressed that California intended to implement the CDC’s masking guidance on June 15, 2021. This is the same date that Governor Newsom announced as the state’s goal for reopening California’s economy fully.
These new developments appear to be the reason that Cal/OSHA asked that the Standards Board not adopt the draft ETS proposal on May 20, 2021. Given the recent CDC guidance and California’s impending reopening, Cal/OSHA appears to be reconsidering the proposal it wishes to present to the Standards Board.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Cal/OSHA ETS. When Cal/OSHA makes a new proposal to the Standards Board, we will post updates on the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center and our California and Workplace Safety and Health blogs. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcasts programs.