By Felicia Alvarez – Staff Writer, Sacramento Business Journal
After weeks of confusion and divided guidance over mask-wearing in workplaces, state regulators are allowing vaccinated workers to drop their masks.
The California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board approved a new set of changes to its Covid-19 emergency standards on Thursday with a 5-1 vote.
The new Covid-19 safety standards are written to be in compliance with statewide guidance and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allow vaccinated to individuals to go maskless in most indoor and outdoor settings. California implemented the rules for the general public on June 15, alongside the state’s larger reopening efforts.
The rules provide some exceptions for public transportation, schools and health care settings, which will still require face coverings.
Under the new rules, workplaces are no longer required to make employees physically distance or use barriers and partitions for physical distancing. Unvaccinated workers are still advised to wear a mask in indoor settings.
Employers are also required to keep some respirators on hand, such as N95 masks, for unvaccinated workers, per the new Cal/OSHA standards. Under the new rules employers must provide information about the safety benefits of respirator masks and make those masks available for “voluntary use.”
Employers are also expected to keep a log of which employees have been vaccinated. The rules allow employees to “self-attest” whether they have received a Covid-19 vaccine.
The new will take effect immediately, per an executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday afternoon. The executive order waives a 10-day review process that the new rules would have had to go through with the state Office of Administrative Law.
The emergency standards also include provisions for workplaces that have a “major” outbreak of Covid-19 that sickens 20 or more employees within a month. If that happens, employers must provide respirators to all workers who were exposed to the outbreak or bring back physical distancing requirements such as staggered work shifts, floor markings 6 feet apart or telework where possible.