California drops workplace mask rule for vaccinated workers


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California regulators on Thursday approved revised worksite pandemic rules that allow fully vaccinated employees the same freedoms as when they are off the job.

The revised regulations adopted Thursday come after weeks of confusion.

They conform with general state guidelines that took effect earlier this week by ending most mask rules for people who are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board approved them on a 5-1 vote.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order immediately afterward enabling the revisions to take effect without the normal 10-day review period by the Office of Administrative Law.

The rules apply to almost every workplace in the state.

The revisions include the following:

Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be tested or to quarantine after close contact unless they have symptoms.

·       Fully vaccinated employees do not need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where CDPH requires all persons to wear them. Employers must verify and document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they do not wear face coverings indoors. 

·       Explicitly allow vaccinatedemployees to wear a face covering without fear of retaliation from employers.

·       Physical distancing requirements have been eliminated except for certain employees during major outbreaks.

·       Employers must provide employees who are not fully vaccinated with respirators for voluntary use, upon request and at no cost.

·       Employer-provided housing and transportation is exempt from the regulations where all residents and vehicle occupants are fully vaccinated.

·       Employers must make COVID-19 testing available to unvaccinated employees who have symptoms as well as vaccinated employees who have symptoms after close contact with a COVID-19 case.

·       Employers must review the Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.

·       Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems.

Requirements from the November 2020 COVID-19 temporary that remain in revised version include:

·       Employers must establish, implement, and maintain an effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program that includes:

o   Identifying and evaluating employee exposures to COVID-19 health hazards.

o   Implementing effective policies and procedures to correct unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

o   Allowing adequate time for handwashing and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects.

·       Employers must provide effective training and instruction to employees on how COVID-19 is spread, infection prevention techniques, and information regarding COVID-19-related benefits that affected employees may be entitled to under applicable federal, state, or local laws.

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