Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board Votes to Adopt Non-Emergency Regulation to Prevent COVID-19

State Seal of California.


Sacramento— The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board today adopted non-emergency regulations to prevent COVID-19. The interim emergency COVID-19 prevention standards will continue to remain in effect while the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) reviews the proposed non-emergency regulations for COVID-19 prevention. The OAL has 30 business days to complete its review. If approved by the OAL, the new regulations will remain in effect for two years.

Notable provisions include:

  • COVID measures in the workplace: Employers are legally required to provide and maintain a safe and healthy workplace for employees, including by taking measures to prevent exposure to COVID-19. Employers must maintain an effective written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) that addresses COVID-19 as a workplace hazard and includes measures to prevent workplace transmission, employee training, and methods of responding to cases of COVID- 19 in the workplace. Employers can review workplace COVID-19 measures in their written IIPP or in a separate document.
  • Testing for COVID: Employers must provide free COVID-19 testing to employees during paid time off after close contact, except for returned cases.
  • Ventilation: For all indoor locations, regardless of size, employers should review applicable CDPH guidance and implement effective measures to prevent transmission through improved filtration and/or ventilation.
  • Definition of contact closure: Close contact is determined by the size of the workplace:
    • For indoor spaces of 400,000 cubic feet or less per floor, close contact is defined as sharing the same indoor airspace as a case of COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period during the case of COVID-19. 19 infectious period as defined in the regulations, regardless of the use of face coverings.
    • For indoor spaces greater than 400,000 cubic feet per floor, close contact is defined as being within six feet of a case of COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period during the infectious case of COVID-19 period as specified in the regulations, regardless of the use of face coverings.
    • Offices, apartments, rooms, waiting areas, rest or dining areas, bathrooms or other spaces that are separated by floor-to-ceiling walls are considered separate interior spaces.
  • Definition of infectious period: The rules use the definition of infectious period,” found in the latest order from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) state public health officer.

Cal/OSHA has updated its resources to help employers understand their obligations under the COVID-19 Prevention Regulations. The COVID-19 Prevention Resources webpage has a summary that describes the regulations. When the new regulation becomes effective, Cal/OSHA will publish an updated set of frequently asked questions and a model program.

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB), a seven-member body appointed by the Governor, is the standard-setting agency under the Cal/OSHA program. The purpose of the Standards Board is to adopt reasonable and enforceable standards that are at least as effective as federal standards. The Standards Board also has the responsibility to grant or deny requests for permanent deviations from accepted standards and to respond to petitions for new or revised standards.

The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, is the department within the Department of Industrial Relations that helps protect California workers from occupational health and safety hazards in nearly every workplace. Cal/OSHA’s Advisory Services Branch provides free and voluntary assistance to employers in improving their worker health and safety programs. Employers should call (800) 963-9424 for assistance from Cal/OSHA Advisory Services.

Media contact: [email protected], (510) 286-1161

Employers with questions about the requirements can contact: [email protected] or call your local Cal/OSHA Counseling Office

Interested parties wishing to comment on the rulemaking process may contact: [email protected]

The California Department of Industrial Relations, established in 1927, protects and improves the health, safety and economic well-being of more than 18 million workers and helps their employers comply with state labor laws. The DIR is housed within the Labor and Workforce Development Agency

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