Employers Must Provide Respirators (Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Update)

The Emergency Temporary Standard took effect on November 30, 2020. On June 17, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) voted to update the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), 8 CCR §§ 3205-3205.4. Executive Order N-09-21 permitted the revised ETS to take effect the same day. 

Major Changes

  • Fully vaccinated employees without symptoms do not need to be tested or quarantined after close contacts with COVID-19 cases unless they have symptoms.
  • No face covering requirements outdoors (except during outbreaks), regardless of vaccination status, though workers must be trained on California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommendations for outdoor use of face coverings.
  • Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees not to wear face coverings indoors but must document their vaccination status. There are some settings where CDPH 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 must provide unvaccinated employees with approved  respirators for voluntary use when working indoors or in a vehicle with others, upon request.
  • Employers may not retaliate against employees for wearing face coverings.
  • No physical distancing or barrier requirements regardless of employee vaccination status with a few exceptions.
  • No physical distancing requirements whatsoever in the employer-provided housing and transportation regulations.
  • Where all employees are vaccinated in employer-provided housing and transportation, employers are exempt from those regulations 
  • Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtrations efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems

These Requirements from the November 2020 ETS are Still in Place

  • An effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program is required.
  • Provide effective training and instruction to employees on the employer’s prevention plan and their rights under the ETS.
  • Provide notification to public health departments of outbreaks.
  • Provide notification to employees of exposure and close contacts.
  • Required to offer testing after potential exposures.
  • Required to respond to COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.
  • Quarantine and exclusion pay requirements.
  • Basic prevention requirements for employer-provided housing and transportation.

An employer must provide respirators in two scenarios: 

  1. to any unvaccinated employee who works with others indoors or in a vehicle and who requests one and 
  2. where there is a major outbreak, to any employees in the exposed group for voluntary use. 

The respirator must be the right size, and the employee must receive basic instruction on how to get a good “seal,” or fit.

Filtering facepiece respirators are disposable respirators that cannot be cleaned or disinfected. They must be replaced if they get damaged, deformed, dirty, or difficult to breathe through. A best practice is to replace filtering facepiece respirators at the beginning of each shift. Employers should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. CDC recommends replacing a disposable filtering facepiece respirator, such as an N95, after it has been taken on and off five times. Filtering facepiece respirators may not fit correctly after repeated use.

Voluntary Respirator Use Information is required to be provided to employees.  Request our Voluntary Use Form, so you have proof of compliance.  Contact Friday@mrsoshasafety.com for free from.

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