Cal OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard may be replaced by “permanent” standard

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Cal/OSHA's COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which was first adopted November 2020, is set to end after December 31, 2022. Instead, the Standards Board announced it will be voting on a proposed “permanent” standard at the next meeting on December 15, 2022. While it is called the permanent standard, it would only last for two years.

We will monitor the voting on this standard and advise as to the result, but if passed the following changes would be enacted (this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. No exclusion pay will be required for employees who miss work due to an employer-caused exposure.
  2. Employers will not need to report outbreaks to the local health department and an outbreak will be over when “one or fewer” new cases are detected in the exposed group for a 14-day period.
  3. Employers can address health and safety workplace measures regarding COVID within their existing Injury and Illness Prevention Plans (IIPPs), as opposed to requiring a separate COVID 19 Prevention Program.

Some things will stay the same such as providing testing and employee notices after exposure (within one business day, under Labor Code section 6409.6). Employers will still need to maintain some records, but not as to employees deemed a close contact, and the definition of “close contact” will be linked to the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) definition (defined as employees sharing the same indoor space as a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour time period.).