Cal/OSHA Reverses Course on Workplace Masking

Earlier this week, Michelman & Robinson, LLP reported that the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board readopted Cal/OSHA’s revised COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards (ETS). In doing so, Cal/OSHA decided to phase out physical distancing requirements and place certain conditions upon mask mandates.

Well, stop the presses. Cal/OSHA has just made an about-face and is reversing itself by withdrawing its pending mask regulation that would have allowed workers to forego face coverings only when every employee in a room is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus (among a variety of other complicated and challenging rules for employers).

Cal/OSHA’s announcement made yesterday (Thursday, June 10) is designed to give the Board time to consider a rule that more closely aligns with a promise by California Governor Gavin Newsom’s to fully reopen the state and eliminate masking requirements for vaccinated individuals beginning on June 15.

The Board will meet on June 17 to decide how Cal/OSHA will move forward when it comes to mask mandates and the like. While Cal/OSHA has not yet issued new standards, it is expected that those to come will be looser and consistent with both California and federal guidelines (new Cal/OSHA standards are anticipated by month’s end). Until then, the state agency’s prior standards requiring masks and social distancing in the workplace remain in place. However, given its most recent reversal, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel for employers statewide.

This blog post is not offered, and should not be relied on, as legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.