06.10.2021 | COVID-19

Cal/OSHA Standards Board Withdraws Revised COVID-19 Regulations

Cal/OSHA’s Standard’s Board adopted revisions to its COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards yesterday, which were made effective as of today per an Executive Order of the Governor. Can you go back to normal? Not yet – but you will be able to take some big steps in that direction.

Highlights of the revisions include:


  • Fully-vaccinated employees need not wear masks, indoors or outdoors, except during an outbreak or other narrowly-defined circumstances. BUT – before fully-vaccinated employees shed their masks, employers must document that they are fully vaccinated.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks indoors, with limited exceptions like when they are eating/drinking or in a room by themselves. In addition, employers must provide respirator masks for unvaccinated employees if they request them. Employees who are not fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks outdoors, except during an outbreak or other narrowly-defined circumstances.
  • Employers may not prevent employees from wearing a mask voluntarily and may not retaliate against employees who choose to do so.

Vaccine Status Documentation

Employers will need to document the status of employees if they want to take advantage of allowing fully-vaccinated employees to be maskless or to avoid workplace exclusions after exposures. You can do this in several ways.

  • Keeping copies of employees’ vaccine cards
  • Asking to see employees’ vaccine cards and keeping a list
  • Asking the employees to “self-attest” as to their status

An employee who refuses to provide documentation should be treated as unvaccinated.

Workplace Exclusion and Testing

  • Fully-vaccinated employees without symptoms need not be tested or excluded from the workplace after “close contact” with a COVID-19 case.
  • Testing is required during working time and at no cost to:
  • Unvaccinated employees
  1. after an exposure to a COVID-19 case
  2. in an outbreak
  3. when the employee has symptoms
  • Vaccinated employees who develop symptoms after an exposure to a COVID-19 case

Physical Distancing

Physical distancing is no longer required except during an outbreak or when an employer is required to assess the workplace for hazards. You can still require physical distancing if you wish.


Your training requirements are expanded to include training your employees:

  • On the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 and protecting against transmission;
  • On the fact that respirator masks protect the wearer while regular masks primarily protect people around the wearer;
  • The conditions under which face masks must be worn at work; and
  • The availability of respirator masks.

Note that your written COVID-19 Prevention Plan will need to be updated to reflect the new rules and that you still must comply with notice requirements to employees, your workers’ compensation carrier, and public health authorities.

For more detail, visit Cal/OSHA’s FAQ on the revisions.

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