CalOSHA Issues Updated FAQs for Its Revised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

by Lizbeth (Beth) V. West
The Labor & Employment Law Blog

On May 7, 2022 (Yes, that was a Saturday), CalOSHA issued a Fact Sheet and updated Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) to align with, and explain, its revised Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) for preventing and responding to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Among other things, the FAQs contain the various tables outlined below, which provide the isolation and quarantine periods (aka “exclusion periods”) that the ETS requires. The requirements are based on recommendations from the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) and depend on whether or not employees who test positive for COVID-19 are symptomatic or asymptomatic, and on whether others who came into close contact with the positive employee develop symptoms or not.

Table 1: Exclusion Requirements for Employees Who Test Positive for COVID-19
Requirements apply to all employees, regardless of vaccination status, previous infection, or lack of symptoms. o    Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from the workplace for at least 5 days after start of symptoms or after date of first positive test if no symptoms.

o    Isolation can end and employees may return to the workplace after day 5 if symptoms are not present or are resolving, and a diagnostic specimen* collected on day 5 or later tests negative.

If an employee’s test on day 5 (or later) is positive, isolation can end and the employee may return to the workplace after day 10 if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever- reducing medications.

o    If an employee is unable or choosing not to testi, isolation can end and the employee may return to the workplace after day 10 if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever- reducing medications.

o    If an employee has a fever, isolation must continue and the employee may not return to work until 24 hours after the fever resolves without the use of fever- reducing medications.

o    If an employee’s symptoms other than fever are not resolving, they may not return to work until their symptoms are resolving or until after day 10.

o    Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days. Please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements.

o    * Antigen test preferred.

 

Table 2: CDPH Guidance for Close Contacts – Employees Who Are Exposed to Someone with COVID-19 (except for High-Risk Settings)
For employees who are asymptomatic. Applies to all employees, regardless of vaccination status. o    Exposed employees must test within three to five days after their last close contact. Persons infected within the prior 90 days do not need to be tested unless symptoms develop.

o    Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days after exposure. Please refer to the section in this FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements.

o    If an exposed employee develops symptoms, they must be excluded pending the results of a test.

o    If an exposed employee who develops symptoms is unable to test or choosing not to test, they must be excluded until 10 days after the date of symptom onset.

o    If an exposed employee tests positive for COVID- 19, they must follow the isolation requirements above in Table 1.

o    Employees are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated and boosted.

For employees who are symptomatic. Applies to all employees, regardless of vaccination status. o    Symptomatic employees must be excluded and test as soon as possible. Exclusion must continue until test results are obtained.

o    If the employee is unable to test or choosing not to test, exclusion must continue for 10 days.

o    If the employee tests negative and returns to work earlier than 10 days after the close contact, the employee must wear a face covering around others for 10 days following the close contact.

o    CDPH recommends continuing exclusion and retesting in 1-2 days if testing negative with an antigen test, particularly if tested during the first 1-2 days of symptoms.

o    For symptomatic employees who have tested positive within the previous 90 days, using an antigen test is preferred.

 

Table 3: CDPH Guidance for Close Contacts – Specified High-Risk Settings
For employees who are:

o   Not fully vaccinated, OR

o   Not infected with SARS-CoV-2 within the prior 90 days.

 

AND who work in the following settings in which transmission risk is high and populations served are at risk of more serious COVID-19 disease consequences including hospitalization, severe illness, and death:

 

o   Emergency Shelters

o   Cooling and Heating Centers

o   Long Term Care Settings & Adult and Senior Care Facilities*

 

o   Local correctional facilities and detention centers*

o   Healthcare settings*

 

* Please note that some employees in these high risk settings are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard (section 5199) and are subject to different requirements. Please see the Scope of Coverage section of this FAQ for

o   Exposed employees must be excluded from work for at least five days after the last known close contact.

o   Exclusion can end and exposed employees may return to the workplace after day 5 if symptoms are not present and a diagnostic specimen collected on day 5 or later tests negative.

o   If an employee is unable to test or choosing not to test, and symptoms are not present, work exclusion can end and the employee may return to the workplace after day 10.

 

 

o   Employees in these settings must wear a face covering while indoors and around others in accordance with CDPH’s universal masking guidance.

o   Employees are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or boosted.

o   If employees develop symptoms after returning to work, they must be excluded from the workplace and test as soon as possible. If employees test positive, they must have

The full FAQs can be obtained here.