Third Time is the Charm: Cal/OSHA Proposes More Changes to Its COVID-19 Rules

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Cal/OSHA is at it again.  A few days ago, Cal/OSHA published proposed revisions to its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) rules. (The proposals are available here.) Cal/OSHA will formally vote on whether to adopt the proposed rules on April 21, 2022. If, as expected, these new rules are adopted, employers should know about some of the key anticipated changes:

  • The standards for a COVID-19 test would be relaxed. Under present COVID-19 regulations, a COVID-19 test cannot be both self-read and self-administered unless the test is observed by an employer or telehealth proctor. Under the new rules, however, a COVID-19 test may be both self-read and self-administered if independent verification of the results can be provided (e.g., a time-stamped photo of the results). This change should be welcomed by employers.
  • The new rules adopt the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) standards for employees who have “close contact” with a COVID-19 case. This is a big change. Under the new rules, employees who have had close contact with a COVID-19 case are excludable from work under CDPH’s criteria. What this means is that, if the proposed Cal/OSHA rules are adopted, employers would have to keep abreast of CDPH’s rules as well. This potentially means more work for employers.
  • Expanded employer-sponsored COVID-19 testing. Under the new rules, employers would have a duty to provide free COVID-19 testing to any and all employees who manifest or experience COVID-19 symptoms. This is an important change from the current rules, which mandate employer-sponsored COVID-19 testing only for those employees who are not “fully vaccinated.”
  • The new rules would do away with the requirement that a cloth face covering must not let light pass through it. At present, current COVID-19 regulations require that cloth face coverings must not let light pass through them. The new rules would remove this requirement.

These are only some of the likely changes coming to California. Should Cal/OSHA adopt the new rules, employers would be advised to review the same and update their COVID-19 policies accordingly.

If you need assistance to further understand how this impacts your business, please contact us at

This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between MNK Law and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.