UPDATE (6/9/21): New COVID-19 Standards for California Employers

Exciting news for California employers! CalOSHA has rolled out new COVID-19 standards, and they're not just a simple extension. The rules include provisions for respirators, cleanable partitions, and confirmations of vaccination status. These requirements are crucial for maintaining workplace safety. Don't get caught unprepared. Make sure you understand and comply with the updated standards. We're here to support your efforts, from vaccinations and testing to respirator fitness surveillance. Contact us today to ensure a safe and productive workplace. Stay informed and stay compliant!
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CalOSHA has recently announced new COVID-19 standards for California employers. As we face a transition in the state’s public response to the pandemic, employers are advised to review the new standards and confirm compliance. The new regulations available here both extend previous rulings and also impose some new restrictions. While many had anticipated that the updated standards would relax the employer’s obligations, the standards actually created some new regulations. Among the new requirements are the following:

  1. For all employees working indoors or at outdoor “mega-events,” which are events with more than 10,000 attendees, employers can satisfy the physical distancing requirements that remain in effect through July 31, 2021, by providing all employees who aren’t fully vaccinated with respirators (e.g., an N95 mask) for voluntary use.
  2. If physical distancing can’t be maintained at all times, and respirators aren’t provided to employees who aren’t fully vaccinated and are working indoors or at outdoor “mega-events,” an employer must install cleanable solid partitions between the employee and other people.
  3. Starting July 31, employers must provide a respirator to all employees who aren’t fully vaccinated for voluntary use and train employees on how to properly wear a respirator.

Confirm Status With Employees

The combination of these requirements essentially requires employers to confirm with each employee if they have been fully vaccinated or not. Thankfully, the EEOC has opined that employers are free to inquire with employees if they are fully vaccinated without engaging in discriminatory conduct (See previous post). However, suppose employers choose not to make that inquiry. In that case, they will have to default to assuming that employers are not vaccinated, as the failure to provide the protections outlined above (cleanable partitions, respirators, and related training) would violate the CalOSHA standard in the event that an unvaccinated employee was in the workplace. In short, California employers are now in a position where they have to either confirm vaccination status with employees or provide the protections outlined above if they want to take a conservative approach to compliance.

Social Distancing

Employers must also maintain social distancing (six feet of separation) in the workplace (through July 31, 2021 (unless further extended. Exceptions to this rule include when employees are fully vaccinated when respirators are provided to employees, when physical distancing is infeasible (although partitions would then be required), and when close contact occurs as a momentary exposure when people are moving (such as walking down a hallway). Note that under the CalOSHA standards, employees are not “fully vaccinated” until they are 14 days after the completion of a full FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccination process.

Employers to Provide Face Coverings

The standards retain in place an obligation for employers to provide face coverings and to enforce and require their proper use by employees. That obligation does not exist where employees are alone in a room or where all employees are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. Note that under a conservative reading of the statute, there are circumstances where employees who are unvaccinated are required to wear a mask, even when working outside.

Testing

Previous standards requiring employers to provide access to COVID-19 testing, to provide notification of potential exposures, and to exclude COVID-19-positive employees from the worksite remain in place. Employers are obligated to update their infectious disease prevention plans to comply with these new standards.

At Work Health Solutions, we can support our clients as they comply with these standards, providing COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, OSHA-mandated respirator fitness surveillance testing, and a host of other measures to ensure a safe and productive workplace. Contact us today for more information.

dfrieders

dfrieders

Chief Solutions Officer

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Work Health Solutions is dedicated to preserving a safe work environment and improving existing programs and care for local, regional and national organizations.

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Dr. Michael Tenison

A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

  • Successfully led medical operations at a national healthcare provider, focusing on optimizing healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
  • Oversaw the regional medical practices in key markets like Oregon and Northern California, ensuring consistent, quality medical care and service delivery.
  • Demonstrated exceptional leadership in building and mentoring a large medical provider team, enhancing team performance and patient care standards.
  • Implemented strategic company policies and protocols, significantly improving center efficiency, clinical quality, and patient experiences.
  • Played a pivotal role in financial planning and identifying growth opportunities for healthcare services, contributing to the organization’s overall success.
  • Served as a primary point of contact for regional employer clients and insurance companies, fostering strong relationships and effective communication.
  • Maintained high medical care and case management standards through diligent supervision, chart audits, and performance metric analysis.

Dr. Matt Feeley

Dr. Matt Feeley is a renowned figure in military aviation medicine, with a robust background in occupational and environmental medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

  • Former Naval Flight Surgeon, exemplifying his expertise in aerospace medicine and commitment to military health.
  • Served with distinction at NSA Bahrain and HSM-37, earning the COMPACFLT Flight Surgeon of the Year award for exceptional medical service.
  • Supported U.S. Marines VMFA-323 aboard the USS Nimitz, MACG-38, and VMU-3, demonstrating versatility and leadership in diverse medical environments.
  • Broad interests and significant contributions in global health, corporate medicine, and aerospace medicine, highlighting his multidisciplinary approach.
  • Proven track record as a dynamic leader, well-equipped to face the challenges in a fractional medical directorship role with innovative solutions.

Dr. Glen Cheng

A physician-attorney with a dedication to healthcare innovation, informatics, and digital health.

  • Currently spearheads employee health protection and promotion within the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System.
  • Trained in residency at Harvard, achieving board certification as a physician; also a licensed patent attorney with experience as FDA regulatory counsel.
  • Co-founded Acceleromics, a consulting firm providing clinical and regulatory guidance to digital health startups.

Erin Davis

 Chief Clinical Officer at Work Health Solutions, certified in Adult-Gerontology (AGNP-C) and Athletic Training (ATC).

  • Oversees clinical operations and ensures high clinical standards across the company’s national field staff.
  • Former Manager of Clinic Operations and Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner at Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).
  • Specialized in treating occupational injuries and illnesses, and provided medical surveillance and travel medicine consults at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Lab.
  • Dedicated to sports and occupational injury treatment and prevention.
  • Assistant Clinical Faculty at UCSF, mentoring students in clinical rotations within the Adult Gerontology and Occupational and Environmental Health Program.
  • Holds leadership roles as Treasurer and President Elect of the California El Camino Real Association of Occupational Health Nurses (CECRAOHN), affiliated with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN).

Dr. Robert Goldsmith

Expert in benefits design and onsite innovation with specialization in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Previous role as Executive Director for Employee Health at Novartis Services, Inc., leading health services and clinical support.
  • Instrumental in creating an integrated healthcare system at Novartis.
  • Former private practice in internal medicine in Stamford, Connecticut, and Medical Director consultant for GTE Corporation.
  • Transitioned to GE as a Global Medical Director in 2000.
  • Holds a medical degree from Albert Einstein College, an MPH from the University of Connecticut, and completed training at Greenwich Hospital and Yale-New Haven Medical Center.
  • Assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Vagelos School of Medicine, Columbia University.
  • Serves as a team physician for high school athletes in Stamford.
  • Published works on occupational health risks, primary prevention, and exercise-induced asthma.