May 7, 2021

Cal/OSHA Proposes Emergency Temporary Standard Changes

Today, Cal/OSHA posted an amendment to the Emergency Temporary Standard regulation on COVID-19 (ETS). The “readoption” draft will be considered and likely approved by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board when it meets on May 20, 2021.

Of note, this language now recognizes COVID-19 vaccinations as a mitigating factor in how employers manage health and safety in their workplaces. Among other issues, relief has been provided on the physical distancing, housing, and transportation requirements when employees are fully vaccinated. Although the ETS will remain in place for many additional months, this amendment represents a significant step in the right direction and will allow greater flexibility in agricultural operations.

Specifically, the following exceptions are being proposed:

  1. Physical distancing requirement of 6 feet would no longer apply when employees are fully vaccinated.
  2. Housing requirements would no longer apply when all employees in the housing are fully vaccinated.
  3. Transportation requirements would no longer apply when employees are vaccinated.

Western Growers (WG) has been advocating for common sense changes to the ETS, and have implored Cal/OSHA to take vaccinated workforces into account. Staff will continue to evaluate the proposed language and will be testifying at the meeting on May 20th. WG has also been actively engaged with legislators and California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office on what further relief within the ETS should be considered.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit filed by WG and industry partners is proceeding on an expedited basis before the California District Court of Appeals.

Links to ETS readoption notice and proposed language can be found here:

For additional information, contact Jason Resnick at 949-885-2253 or Matthew Allen at 916-446-1435.