After 9 hours, over 500 public comments and 2 votes, the readoption COVID-19 Protection Plan passed. This standard was approved as a stopgap measure—an improvement over the current regulation, but not quite there according to the California Standards Board. A subcommittee was also established to advise Cal/OSHA on the corrections needed. Depending on what is needed, the revised regulation might be up for vote at the regular June 17th meeting, but the August meeting may be a more realistic date. The process is not complete until approved by the Office of Administrative Law.
A few of the challenges repeatedly brought up during the comment period:
- If all workers in a room are vaccinated, face coverings do not have to be worn.
a. How will a company legally find out who is vaccinated
b. How will employees know who is not vaccinated to determine if a face mask must be worn.?
c. Will this create a hostile work environment between the vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?
- N95 respirators must be available for non-vaccinated employees to wear voluntarily
a. N95 respirators should be left available for the medical profession or construction workers doing tasks that actually require a respirator, e.g., wildfire smoke.
b. While the California Code of Regulations for respirators does not require all the elements of the respirator program, employers are obligated to do a few things. Click here to download Guidelines to Implement a Program for VoluntaryRespirator Use.
- Vaccines must be FDA approved or have an emergency use authorization from the FDA.
a. This is a problem for large companies with an international workforce. This regulation only recognizes vaccines approved for use by the FDA. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a list of additional vaccines that are used in the rest of the world. If these employees come to the U.S. to work, according to this regulation, they are not vaccinated
- This regulation does not address recovered employees’ immunity to COVID when it comes to wearing a face covering.
Other changes are not as controversial and are more easily implemented. Changes are scheduled to be effective June 15, 2021.
I’d like to say “The End” but it’s not the end. Expect another revision that will hopefully successfully address the challenges outlined above. While your company’s current COVID-19Prevention Plan (CPP) needs to be rewritten to the June 3 version; the biggest hurdle is the implementation. Cal/OSHA has been tasked to provide specific directions. Check their FAQS page for updates. If you have questions, need help with updates or implementation, contact Teddi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951.674.1333