April 2024

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California amends COVID-19 prevention rules

07/01/21

Author: ADP Admin/Monday, June 28, 2021/Categories: Compliance Corner , State Compliance Update, California

The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has revised emergency rules related to protecting workers from COVID-19. The revisions are effective immediately.

Background:

In late 2020, the DIR adopted emergency rules for protecting workers from COVID-19, including a requirement for employers to adopt a written prevention program. Under the emergency rules, employers must establish, implement, and maintain an effective, written COVID-19 Prevention Program, which may be integrated into the employer's Injury and Illness Program, or be maintained in a separate document.

Key Changes:

The revised rules reflect the state's latest COVID-19 public health guidance and include changes to face coverings and physical distancing requirements. Here's a summary of some of the changes that impact employers:

  • Face coverings. Employers may generally allow fully vaccinated employees not to wear face coverings indoors, but they must document the employees' vaccination status. However, there are some settings where the California Department of Public Health requires face coverings regardless of vaccination status. In outbreaks, all employees must wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when six-feet physical distancing cannot be maintained, regardless of vaccination status. Employers may not retaliate against employees for wearing face coverings.
  • Physical distancing and barriers. There are no longer physical distancing or barrier requirements regardless of employee vaccination status with certain exceptions, such as:
  • Respirators. Employers must provide unvaccinated employees with approved respirators for voluntary use when working indoors or in a vehicle with others, upon request. A respirator is defined as a respiratory protection device approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to protect the wearer from particulate matter, such as an N95.
  • Close contacts. Fully vaccinated employees don't need to be tested or quarantined after close contacts with COVID-19 cases unless they have symptoms. Employers must exclude, from the workplace, employees who have COVID-19 symptoms and/or are not fully vaccinated and, if that close contact is work-related, continue to pay the employee.
  • Ventilation. Employers must review the Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments, evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtrations efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems.

Compliance Recommendations:

California employers should read the revised rules in full (a preview is available here) and ensure their written COVID-19 Prevention Program complies. The DIR is expected to publish an updated model COVID-19 Prevention Program soon, which will be available here. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.

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