Cal/OSHA’s Revised Standards Allow Fully Vaccinated Employees to Work Without Masks and Make Other Changes That Will Make Workplaces Look More Like Before


Yesterday, Cal/OSHA revised its emergency temporary standards for workplaces regarding COVID-19 infection prevention, and Governor Newsom signed an executive order making them immediately effective. 

Employers are still required to maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program, but there are some key changes to mask wearing and other requirements now that we have record low case rates and California has administered 39 million vaccine doses.

Employers must document which employees are fully vaccinated. There are two ways to document this. Employees can provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care document showing vaccination status) and the employer can maintain a copy or record of who presented proof. Alternatively, employees can self-attest to vaccination status, and the employer must maintain a record of who self-attests.

In general, fully vaccinated workers without COVID-19 symptoms do not need to wear face coverings indoors. The only exceptions to this are those working in indoor settings in which everyone must wear a face covering, which currently includes public transit, K-12 educational facilities, health care and long-term care settings, correctional and detention facilities, and shelters (homeless or emergency shelters and cooling centers). 

Workers who choose to wear a face covering even if not required to do so are protected from retaliation. Also, fully vaccinated workers need not be tested or quarantined after close contacts with COVID-19 cases unless they have symptoms. 

An employer is not obligated to require employees to submit proof of being fully vaccinated, so an employee has the right to decline to state if they are vaccinated or not. In that case, the employer must treat the employee as unvaccinated.

Employers must provide all unvaccinated employees with N95s or other respirator masks if they work with others indoors and request one. Though face coverings are not required outdoors, employers must communicate to workers that face coverings are recommended for unvaccinated persons outdoors where six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Finally, employers can eliminate physical distancing and partitions/barriers unless there is an outbreak of three of more COVID-19 cases in an exposed group of employees.

If you need help revising your written COVID-19 Prevention Plan or would like to discuss anything else related to COVID-19 in your workplace, please contact Ross Schwartz, Dick Semerdjian, Kevin Cauley, Sarah Evans or John Schena.