On June 9, 2021, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (OSHSB) met yet again to address the controversial and precarious regulation that is attempting to keep employees safe from COVID-19 infection.

As we all now know, reliable data related to prevention, protection, immunity (acquired naturally or via vaccination) is ever-changing. What we were told yesterday is different today. Not to anyone’s fault, just the nature of the beast.

May 20th
California’s OSHSB Advisory Committee, after many hours of Board member discussion and public comment, decided to postpone their vote on Cal OSHA’s proposed changes until they reconvened at an “Emergency Meeting” on June 3rd. Expectations of Cal OSHA re-drafting language to better fit current Federal and State guidelines.

June 3rd
California’s OSHSB Advisory Committee voted, after about 8 hours of discussion and public comment, not to approve Cal OSHA’s proposed changes to the original 11/30/20 Standard. BUT minutes later (mysterious goings-on) reversed position and approved the proposed changes. Board approval was sent to OAL for final sign-off into law. OAL has a 10 day window (June 14) to complete the approval task.

June 9th
OSHSB called a “Special Meeting” to re-address their June 3rd approval of changes, claiming that new CDC and CDPH guidelines directly impacted the June 3rd regulatory language changes. Also, unknowingly to Board members upon scheduling this June 9th meeting, CDPH issued significant changes to guidelines earlier in the day on June 9th.

At approximately 9:00pm PST, the Board members voted to retract their June 3rd approval, asking Cal OSHA to work with the Board’s three-person subcommittee to rework the Standard’s language again to address the NEW, latest guidelines, to be discussed / voted on in the regularly-scheduled June 17th Board meeting.

Interesting legal info:
Chair Thomas and Executive Officer Schupe clarified an underlying reason for the importance of retracting their June 3rd approval. Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) can ONLY be “re-adopted” twice. If they did not retract the June 3rd approval, then the next, update / “re-adoption” on June 17th would be the last changes allowed to be made to the COVID-19 Prevention ETS. This would greatly impede the Board’s ability to address anticipated Federal and State guideline changes in the coming weeks / months.

It does not appear that the Board is considering the possibility of rescinding the ETS. However, at this moment in time, Employers can take a breather on the two major points of contention in the proposed, rejected, approved, retracted regulatory language revisions…1. Employer requirement to provide N95’s to all unvaccinated employees for their option to wear AND 2. segregation of employees into two classes, vaccinated and unvaccinated. These two contentious issues may remain in the June 17th re-adopted Standard, but we cannot be sure.

June 17th
Regularly-scheduled Board meeting. Agenda changed to focus on the COVID-19 Prevention standard. I am sure this is going to be another long, grueling meeting.

Mike Geosano