Regardless of vaccination status, physical distancing could be required in California indoor workplaces until July 31, 2021.
On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to consider whether emergency temporary standards are necessary, and if so, to issue them by March 15, 2021. OSHA missed the deadline and did not submit a rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review until April 26, 2021. The necessity for such standards was and is under debate in light of decreased transmission rates and increased vaccination rates, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, and gradual state reopenings. However, after the OMB completed its review on June 9, 2021, OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS, or Healthcare ETS) to address COVID-19, in the health care industry only, at 29 CFR 1910.502 on June 10, 2021.
The Healthcare ETS applies to settings where any employee provides health care services or health care support services, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Notably, fully vaccinated workers are exempt from masking, distancing, and barrier requirements when in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that any person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will be present.
Key Requirements of Healthcare ETS
The ETS is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Employers must comply with most provisions within 14 days, and with provisions involving physical barriers (29 CFR 1910.502(i)), ventilation (29 CFR 1910.502(k)), and training (29 CFR 1910.502(n)) within 30 days.
The 28 states with their own OSHA-approved plans must either amend their standards to be identical, or “at least as effective as” the new standard, or show that an existing state standard is “at least as effective” as the new standard. Within 30 days of the promulgation date of the final rule, states must adopt the ETS.
A link to OSHA’s webpage for the ETS is here.
Key Takeaways for Industries Not Covered by Healthcare ETS
The full text of the guidance is here.
For more information, please reach out to your regular Pillsbury contact or the authors of this client alert.