Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Non-Emergency Standards
On February 3, 2023, Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Non-Emergency Standards was approved and became effective. The Non-Emergency Standards will remain in effect until February 3, 2025, and can be found at https://www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/documents/COVID-19-Prevention-Non-Emergency-apprvdtxt-oal.pdf.
The Non-Emergency Standards relax several previously mandatory requirements and have modified some important definitions.
The following are changes employers need to be aware of and implement.
Exclusion Pay: Exclusion pay has been eliminated so employers are no longer required to pay the wages of close contacts of Covid cases exposed while in the workplace. Employers need to review their COVID-19 Prevention Plans and policies and remove references to exclusion pay since it is no longer required.
Notice Requirements: Employers must continue to provide notice of possible exposure to close contacts and those present in the worksite during the infectious period of a Covid case. Employers may now post the notice in all places where notices to employees concerning workplace rules or regulations are customarily posted. Notices no longer have to be individually delivered to affected employees.
As a reminder, Supplemental Paid Sick Leave ("SPSL") expired on December 31, 2022.
Employee Screening: Employers are no longer required to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms but must continue to (1) effectively identify and respond to persons with COVID-19 symptoms at the workplace; (2) encourage employees to report COVID-19 symptoms and to stay home when sick.
Employer-Provided Testing: Employers must still make testing available to employees who had a close contact in the workplace and as required under outbreak protocols, but employers are no longer required to make testing available to any employee experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
Outbreak Protocols: Several changes have been made to outbreak protocols including:
- Employers need not report non-major outbreaks to local health departments
- Major outbreaks must be reported Cal/OSHA
- The outbreak and major outbreak status ends when there are one or fewer new Covid cases detected in the exposed group in a 14-day period
- During a non-major outbreak, employers need not evaluate whether the six-foot physical distancing would be appropriate to prevent further Covid cases
- If ventilation is not sufficient to reduce transmission in any outbreak employers will be required to use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration in indoor areas
Covid Prevention Plan: Employers may incorporate their Covid Prevention Plan in their written Injury and Illness Prevention Program ("IIPP"), if required to have one, or may keep it in a separate document. Importantly, employers must continue to operate using the Covid Prevention Plan. CalOSHA has provided a Model Prevention Program updated for the changes made in the Non-Emergency Standards. The Model Program can be downloaded with this link: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/CPP.doc.
Changes to Definitions: The significant definition changes include:
"Close Contact" – Two new definitions of closed contact were adopted that distinguish between workplace size:
- Indoor spaces of 400,000 cubic feet or less: a close contact results from sharing the same indoor space for 15 or more cumulative minutes within 24 hours during the infectious period. Here, six feet of distance does not matter.
- Indoor spaces of greater than 400,000 cubic feet: a close contact results from being within six feet of a COVID case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours during the infectious period.
- Each room with floor-to-ceiling walls makes up a distinct indoor space for the purposes of this rule. Employees wearing a respirator during this time are not close contacts.
"Exposed Group" clarifies that spaces individuals momentarily pass through without congregating, regardless of whether they are wearing a face covering, are not considered for the purpose of determining if a group has been exposed.
- For symptomatic cases, the infectious period may now end five days (down from 10 days) after the onset of symptoms if the individual tests negative on the 5th day and has not had a fever for over 24 hours without medication.
- For asymptomatic cases, the infectious period may also end five days after a positive test if a negative test is produced on the fifth day.
CalOSHA has updated its Frequently Asked Questions and created Fact Sheets in both English and Spanish. These documents are available at https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/Non_Emergency_Regulations.
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