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October 17, 2021

New Cal-OSHA rules allow vaccinated workers to forego masks

New rules take effect June 18

Fully vaccinated workers will no longer be required to wear a mask regardless of whether their co-workers are unvaccinated following new guidance Thursday from the state’s workplace safety agency.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to adopt new workplace masking and safety rules for the second time in two weeks, allowing fully vaccinated workers to forego wearing a mask if they document their vaccination status.

All employees will also not be required to wear a mask when working outdoors regardless of their vaccination status. 

After the board’s vote, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to make the new rules effective at 12:01am Friday rather than after 10 days as normally required for workplace safety changes.

“We’re turning the page,” Newsom said during a briefing Thursday about both Cal/OSHA’s guidelines and the state’s reopening in general. “No more capacity limits, no more modifications, no more issues around physical and social distancing and now we are aligning with (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines.”

The new rules will require unvaccinated workers to continue wearing a mask indoors as they’ve been required to do throughout the pandemic.

Fully vaccinated employees will also not be required by the state to get tested for Covid-19 or quarantine if they are asymptomatic. 

Employers must continue documenting their virus prevention standards, provide unvaccinated workers with N95 respirators upon request and evaluate their business’ ventilation system to maximize proper air flow. 

Until two weeks ago, workers had been required to wear a mask or other face covering regardless of their vaccination status or whether they worked indoors or outside.

At the Cal/OSHA board’s June 3 meeting, the agency considered an updated set of rules that would have allowed fully vaccinated workers to remove their masks only in rooms in which all workers were also fully vaccinated. 

Those rules—which the board unanimously voted to rescind one week ago after backlash from some business groups and consultation with state health officials—would have gone into effect weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate in most situations for fully vaccinated people.

According to state vaccination data, more than 70 percent of adults across the state have received at least one vaccine dose.

More information on the state’s new workplace safety rules for vaccinated people can be found at https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/Revisions-FAQ.html.

Copyright © 2021 Bay City News, Inc.

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