Cal/OSHA Board Waffles on What to Do with Emergency Temporary Standard

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is walking back a recent decision regarding the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Revisions approved by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board (Standards Board) on June 3 have been put on hold in light of recent developments. An emergency meeting was held on June 9, where the Standards Board heard from public stakeholders on the best course of action. The meeting was called in response to new guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The revised ETS received scrutiny after its approval less than two weeks ago and the latest development is creating frustration for many.

Emergency Temporary Standard

“A week ago, this board rejected readoption of the ETS and then reversed itself only a few minutes later. You were clearly struggling to make an appropriate decision. It seems clear that the biggest problem in the debate last week was that some board members erroneously believe the ETS to be effective. However, I assure you – the ETS is an epic failure,” California Association of Winegrape Growers Director of Government Relations Michael Miiller said in his testimony during the emergency meeting. “California is where we are today in spite of the ETS, not because of it. The ETS has nothing to do with California’s successes.” 

The revisions made to the emergency standards were expected to become effective by June 15 after approval from the Office of Administrative Law. With the revisions officially withdrawn, the November 2020 ETS will remain in effect until the Standards Board holds another vote. Cal/OSHA will be reviewing the new information regarding masking from the CDC and CDPH. The Standards Board is expected to vote on the updated revision to the Emergency Temporary Standard at its June 17 meeting. Until the Standards Board approves another set of revisions, employers will still need to comply with current standards for social distancing, masking, outbreak management, and employer-provided housing and transportation.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West