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December 17, 2021

Key Changes of Readopted Cal/OSHA ETS

On December 16, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board approved a revision and extension of the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Incorporated in the approved revisions are some rather significant changes employers should be aware of.

Amongst the changes, some significant modifications to COVID-19 prevention and response requirements for the workplace include:

Face Coverings

  • 3205(b)(8) – Increased restrictions are placed on the use of cloth face coverings in this section with the standard now requiring fabric masks to specifically, “…not let light pass through when held up to a light source…” Revisions also clarify the requirement for two-layered use of alternative cloth-based face coverings.
    Allowances for use of surgical masks or voluntary use of respirators remain unchanged.

Employee Screening & Testing

  • 3205(c)(2)(B) – Employee screening for COVID-19 symptoms now requires that both the screener and employee being screened wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status.

Response to a COVID-19 Exposure

  • 3205(c)(3)(B)5 – Employers are now required to provide COVID-19 testing at no cost to all employees, including those who were vaccinated prior to the close contact exposure with a COVID-19 case.
  • 3205(c)(9)(B) – Implements requirements for face coverings and physical distancing for all employees, regardless of vaccination status after close contact exposure to a COVID-19 case.

Employer-provided Housing

  • 3205.3(h)(1) Eliminates an exemption; employers now required to quarantine fully vaccinated and asymptomatic employees who live in employer-provided housing after a COVID-19 exposure.

Employer-provided Transportation

  • 3205.4 –The revised language in the readopted standard now requires that employees, regardless of vaccination status, wear face coverings in vehicles when traveling with other employee(s).

Based on approval from the Board, the revised ETS will become effective January 14, 2022, and remain in place for three months. Furthermore, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order on December 16 that provides Cal/OSHA with the ability to extend this ETS through December 2022.


  • New ETS (changes from the previous standard are underlined)
  • Newsom’s Executive Order on ETS extension
  • WG analysis on original ETS that took effect on November 30, 2020
  • WG analysis on updated ETS — on June 17, 2021

Western Growers will continue to monitor updates about ETS and will inform members of additional information as it becomes available.