Santa Clara County workers get revised mask rules
The California Workplace Safety Board changed its mask rules again, this time to align with the statewide which reopened on Tuesday.
Cal / OSHA ruled Thursday that vaccinated workers can dispose of their masks in the workplace, even if some of their co-workers are not vaccinated, except in places where they are required for everyone, such as public transportation. common.
Workers will also not have to follow physical distancing rules unless there is an outbreak. If there is a COVID outbreak, masks will be mandatory for all workers inside and outside if workers cannot stay six feet from each other. Fully vaccinated workers do not need to be tested or quarantined even after potential exposure to the virus.
Governor Gavin Newsom has pledged to speed up the process for legal approval of the new rules. Cal / OSHA decisions generally must be approved by the state’s administrative law office within 10 days. But Newsom said he would publish a decree immediately apply the new rules.
Under the new rules, employers need to know which workers are vaccinated. Workers can either show their vaccination cards or self-certify to check their vaccination status.
Unvaccinated workers are still required to wear masks indoors, unless they are alone in a room or vehicle. Employers should make respirators, such as N95 masks, available only to those who request them.
The rules apply in almost all workplaces, including offices, factories and retail businesses. They are modeled on the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Brian Amador, Managing Director of ClubSport San José, said there was already a need to verify the immunization status of Santa Clara County employees.
“We are very happy that a large number of our employees are being vaccinated,” he said, adding that the gym will follow compliance mandates regarding those who are not.
He said they will need to find a way to stock up on N95 masks, as employers must now provide them to workers on demand.
“The members seem happy to take off their masks,” Amador said. “It’s a pleasure for us to see their smiley faces again and I imagine it will be the same when employees can… smile back and start to feel a little more normalized again. “
Sarju Naran, a lawyer at the San José-based law firm Hoge fenton, said the updated rules ease the burden on employers. They no longer need to worry about everyone in the room needing masks if one or more people are not vaccinated, he said. The challenge for employers is that even though the rules are more relaxed, they are more difficult to enforce because not all counties follow vaccination.
Even with the follow-up, Naran said it would be difficult for employers to determine if everyone in the room is vaccinated.
“How do you go about regulating this, making sure that unvaccinated people wear a mask without revealing to other employees that there is someone in the room who is not vaccinated?” he said.
The seven-member Cal / OSHA board of directors has been going back and forth on masks and physical distancing. The council issued rules requiring masks for mixed-vaccination workplaces on June 3 until it reverse course a week later.
Hours of public commentary at Cal / OSHA’s June 3 meeting criticized the board for being out of step with CDC guidelines. Dozens of California residents also commented at Thursday’s meeting, urging the board to stop mask requirements.
Connor Medina of Orange County Business Council said the evidence for vaccination rules is inconsistent.
“Businesses, workers and customers need clarity in reopening rules, not confusion,” he said, suggesting that Cal / OSHA implement a grace period before application.
Helen Cleary, Director of Roundtable on the Phylmar regulation, asked how employers would approach meals in cafeterias. The face-covering section of the new rules requires physical distancing for unvaccinated workers while eating and drinking, she said, and roundtable members discussed separate eating areas for vaccinated workers and not vaccinated.
“It’s a separate dining room,” she said. “To impose face coverings, employers will be pushed to create two classes and physical markers for vaxxed and non-vaxxed employees. This is undesirable for security and ethical reasons.
Mitch Steiger, a legislative advocate for the California Federation of Labor, opposed the removal of face coverings from the workplace. He said people pretend the pandemic is over and are unaware that COVID outbreaks in the workplace are still happening. Most Californians are still not fully immunized, he said.
From Thursday, 119,580 residents of Santa Clara County have tested positive for COVID-19 and 2,187 have died. About 79.5% of county residents aged 12 and over are vaccinated with at least one dose, and about 70.5% of residents aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated.
Statewide, 19,074,396 people, or 56.2%, are fully vaccinated.
Laura Stock, a board member, raised concerns about the lifting of workplace mask mandates, saying there were still Californians who only had one dose of the vaccine. She thinks the revisions go “too far in removing essential protections.”
“No matter how tired we are from the restrictions, the pandemic is not over,” Stock said. “I have been in great conflict over the choices presented to us today. “
Stock added that California is putting “most of our eggs in a vaccine basket,” calling for tighter vaccination documentation.
Towards the end of the debate, Council Chairman David Thomas urged everyone to get vaccinated.
“At every meeting I hear a lot of misinformation. It’s amazing to me after all this time that we still have so much information going around, ”said Thomas. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, I would like you to give it serious thought. “
Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter. Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]