COVID-19 Update: Cal/OSHA’s Non-Emergency COVID Standard

February 6, 2023 4:16 pm

After almost three years of being in an “emergency” state, Cal/OSHA has finally published its non-emergency COVID-19 standard.

Last month, Cal/OSHA submitted its non-emergency COVID regulation to the state for final approval. The state Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the regulations Friday afternoon, February 3, 2023. These non-emergency regulations will remain in effect for two years (or, in the case of recordkeeping requirements, three years).


What are the most important elements of this non-emergency standard that employers should be aware of?

What Has Not Changed

Employers must maintain a plan to address COVID-19. While you are no longer required to maintain a separate COVID-19 Prevention Program, you must still address COVID-19 hazards as part of your Injury & Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP.) This means that, as with other hazards, you will need to account for employee training and compliance and hazard assessment, correction, and prevention.

You may continue to maintain a separate program if you prefer. Whether as a separate program or part of their IIPP, employers must:

  • Provide face coverings and ensure their use when required by the CDPH.
  • Make COVID testing available, during paid time and at no cost, following a close contact or during an outbreak/major outbreak.
  • Exclude COVID-19 cases from the workplace as directed by the CDPH.
  • Address workplace ventilation as part of their COVID-19 prevention measures.

What Has Changed


Many of the burdensome requirements of the emergency standard have been eliminated from the permanent standard (whew!):

  • Employers are no longer required to pay “exclusion pay” to those employees who are excluded from work due to a workplace exposure. If employees are excluded from work, they must be provided with information on COVID-19 benefits available to them, such as paid sick leave, paid vacation, or State Disability Insurance.
  • Employees are no longer required to participate in any kind of daily screening.

Not all the administrative burdens have been removed, though. Major outbreaks – when there are 20+ COVID-19 cases within a 30-day period – must be reported to Cal/OSHA, and employers must notify employees “as soon as possible” of close contact with COVID-19 cases. Also, new legislation effective January 1, 2023 specifies that employers must post written notice about workplace COVID cases for at least 15 days.

The definition of “close contact’ has also changed. Only in indoor spaces of over 400,000 cubic feet does the familiar definition apply (being within 6 feet for a cumulative 15 minutes over 24 hours). For smaller spaces, close contact happens when individuals share the same indoor airspace for a cumulative 15 minutes or more over 24 hours. “Airspace” has not been defined, but the CDPH provided, as examples, “home, clinic waiting room, airplane.”

Other Resources

Cal/OSHA has provided a courtesy copy of the final text of the non-emergency regulation, with changes stricken. They have also provided a two-page document summarizing some of these changes.

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