Cal-OSHA’s revised COVID safety standards for the work place went into effect immediately on June 17. The revisions focus on loosening the restrictions for vaccinated employees, such as mask requirements and mandatory quarantine for a workplace COVID exposure. In connection, Cal-OSHA has mandated that employees determine the vaccination status of their employees. It is important to explain to employees that this is a state mandate, as many employees have a mistaken belief that they can’t be questioned about their vaccination status under anti-discrimination or HIPAA provisions.
Methods for Determining Vaccination Status
Employers have the option of choosing one of three methods for determining vaccination status:
- You may request that employees show proof that they have been fully vaccinated and keep a copy of the proof
- You may request that employees show proof they have been fully vaccinated without making a copy of the proof
- You may request that employees self attest as to their vaccination status
The third option does not require using a written self-attestation form, but it is recommended so that you have a record in the event of a complaint or investigation by Cal-OSHA. All information gathered from employees must be kept confidential, in a file separate from the regular personnel file, and should only be disclosed to management employees on a need to know basis.
“Fully vaccinated” means receiving both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine, and the final dose was administered more than 14 days ago. You should notify employees that they may update their vaccination status once they receive all doses and the 14 day period has elapsed.
Under the revised standards, fully vaccinated employees do not have to wear a mask in most workplaces. Unvaccinated employees must continue to wear masks inside company facilities or in vehicles with other employees. Employees no longer have to wear masks when working outside, no matter their vaccination status, but you must communicate that masks are recommended and provide masks to all employees upon request. The revisions contain a new requirement that unvaccinated employees be provided N95 masks upon request, and the employer must provide training on use of the N95 and how to obtain the proper fit and seal.
Physical Distancing Requirements
Physical distancing requirements, including removing furniture and placing barriers between work spaces, have been fully lifted (with exceptions for outbreaks). Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be quarantined for 10 days after a COVID exposure, unless they become symptomatic or test positive. Unvaccinated employees must be quarantined, however, and the employer must continue to pay employees who are required to quarantine due to a work place exposure.
Other provisions in the COVID standards remain in effect, including maintaining a written COVID prevention plan, providing COVID training, giving notice to employees if there is a workplace exposure, and providing access to free testing for employees (including unvaccinated employees with symptoms, no matter if there was work place exposure). Also, in the event of an outbreak (3 or more cases due to work exposure) employers have to evaluate re-imposing physical distancing and must enforce outdoor mask requirements, and must re-impose physical distancing if there is a major outbreak (20 or more cases).
Employers who have questions about the revised standards or who need assistance with developing self-attestation forms and other COVID communications should contact Erick Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to discuss.