DECIPHERING CALIFORNIA’S NEW COVID WORKPLACE SAFETY STANDARDS
On June 3, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board adopted COVID-19 standards scheduled to go into effect following the end of California’s "Blueprint for a Safer Economy” color-coded tier system ending on June 15. The following information is taken from the June 3 adopted standards, which require administrative approval.
I’m fully vaccinated. Do I need to wear a mask?
If you’re working outdoors, no. You don’t have to wear a mask unless you have COVID-19 symptoms. If you’re working indoors, yes, you have to wear a mask. But there is one significant exception: You don’t have to wear a mask if everyone in a room is fully vaccinated and doesn’t have COVID-19 symptoms. Click here for more information about this topic.
What about social distancing?
Social distancing is required if you work inside or at mega outdoor events (Defined as having 10,000 or more participants or spectators). However, the requirement ends July 31. After that, social distancing is not required, except during outbreaks.
In mixed groups, masks would still be required, but businesses would not have to impose social distancing if they provide N95 masks for the unvaccinated to use voluntarily.
I’m not fully vaccinated. What can I do?
You have to wear a mask, but there are a few exceptions, which also apply to those who are fully vaccinated:
How do these standards work with federal and state guidance?
The federal guidance says those who are fully vaccinated can go maskless indoors and outdoors. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted state and local workplace guidance can supersede the federal recommendation.
California plans to lift its mask mandate on June 15, but Cal/OSHA does have the authority to create separate rules for workplaces.
What else should I know about the standards?
Because the board’s rule only governs workplaces, customers won’t be affected. That means come June 15, when California expects to lift its mask mandate, customers can come in without face coverings. However, nothing prohibits a private employer from requiring everyone, including customers, to wear masks.
Could the rule change again?
The board voted on June 3 to convene a subcommittee to update the standard as quickly as possible. The next meeting is scheduled for June 17, followed by another on July 15 (although the board can convene an emergency meeting in between scheduled sessions). However, it could take until August to make any substantial change to the standards.
Will Governor Newsom step in?
Board members acknowledged Newsom can issue an executive order modifying the standards, which were backed by labor and heavily opposed by the business representatives. But speaking on June 4, Newsom said he looks forward to the board’s discussion and didn’t say whether he plans to make any changes on his own.
February 8, 2021 Public Health Order:
Public Health COVID-19 Community Townhalls:
On December 3, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a regional stay at home order in response to the continued spread of COVID-19. For the purposes of his order, California is divided up into the five regions depicted below. The majority of SRBX members are within the Greater Sacramento Region.
The Governor’s order specifies individuals who reside in regions with less than 15% of hospital ICU capacity will be prohibited from having private gatherings of any size. The order further closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others.
As of Thursday, it was reported the Sacramento region had 22% capacity left in its intensive care units, keeping it (for the moment) above the 15% threshold. However, ICU utilization has been climbing over the past few weeks, and the Newsom administration projected Sacramento Region ICUs may exceed capacity by December 24 if coronavirus infections continue at the recent pace.
Please note this order does not impact the construction industry. All areas of construction continue to be deemed essential, and work on construction projects can continue in all areas of the state.
A copy of the governor’s announcement can be viewed here.
SRBX will continue to monitor information from the governor’s office and will inform members of any significant changes or impacts to the construction industry.
Due to the current COVID-19 health crisis, OSHA has granted permission for certain OSHA numbered classes to be presented via a pilot study using a live, online video-based delivery system. SRBX’s partners with the OSHA Training Institute Education Center at Chabot-Las Positas are offering SRBX members a 50% discount on classes not at maximum enrollment.
SRBX has compiled a number of COVID-19 Safety and Resource documents and packaged it into a Jobsite Safety Package. The information contains information on best practices, a jobsite safety sheet and screening checklist, health and safety plan information, and factsheets in English and Spanish for site employees.