California workplace regulators reversed for a second time in a week on Wednesday. by withdrawing the regulations on masks that are pending As they looked at the rules in line with Gavin Newsom’s promise that the state would be fully reopened from the pandemic on Tuesday.
Revised rules of the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. which was adopted last week after it was initially rejected. Workers will be allowed to discard masks only if all staff in one room have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. This is in stark contrast to the state’s broader plan to eliminate masking and social distancing requirements for vaccinated people, along with the latest recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Revoking that workplace rule before it goes into effect will allow the committee to consider the change at its June 17 meeting, and it could be effective by the end of the month.
The goal of the unanimous vote, said board chairman David Thomas, was: changes in workplace regulations “To comply with the CDC and the California Department of Public Health so that we all understand the same That’s what it’s all about so we don’t keep pace with everyone else.”
Safety committee officials were not specific about the changes to be introduced next week. In addition to trying to follow workplace rules closely with public health guidelines.
But Eric Burke, deputy head of public health at the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health, Known as Cal/OSHA, public health guidelines generally allow everyone vaccinated to wear a mask indoors. Under those rules, he said, “people who are vaccinated are not required to wear masks at work.”
The reversal came after state health official Dr. Tomás Aragón reiterated to committee members at a hastily scheduled special meeting next week that it would end most of the masking rules for people who have been vaccinated. While still requiring masks for unvaccinated people in indoor public areas. and businesses
The exception that everyone must wear a mask is public transport. indoor school classes in hospitals and correctional facilities And in places like homeless shelters and refrigeration centers, Aragón said, private businesses are free to require everyone to wear masks under general rules, he said.
Helen Clearry, Director of the Phylmar Regulatory Roundtable, a large consortium of business partners with significant operations in California. It is one of many business representatives calling on the board to comply with public health requirements.
“Employers cannot plan with this high level of uncertainty,” she said. “We are disappointed and disappointed by the confusion, process, content and lack of leadership.”
The workplace committee’s tighter guidelines put Newsom in an awkward position as he battles elections pending recall. although he was reluctant to replace the committees he appointed.
Michael Miiller, director of government relations for the California Association of Winegrape Growers, told board members before the vote: “The public does not differentiate between this committee and the other Newsom administrations,” he said. “What they hear is Newsom’s administration saying that masks at work might be here.”
The pressure on the committee comes as dozens of business groups, including the California Retailers Association and organizations representing producers, farmers, tourism enthusiasts, and other stakeholders. And other industries sent letters to Newsom asking him to immediately issue an emergency order revoking the board’s bylaws.
The mandatory use of masks unless everyone is vaccinated in the workplace will “Create another barrier to hiring and reopening” at a time when “we need to provide incentives to bring people back,” they said. They say the need for masks for people who are fully vaccinated may lead people to believe that vaccines are really ineffective.
Business representatives at a meeting on Wednesday asked the committee to drop all epidemic rules and rely on Cal/OSHA’s basic powers to protect workers. Employee advocates retort that the pandemic is not over. and various virus strains is in danger
Board member Laura Stock said: Protecting employees who have no real choice but have to leave for work is important.
For example, state data shows that in the retail sector over the past 30 days, “there have been 70 outbreaks over two days,” said Stock, who oversees the Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley. ”
The group also wants the committee to withdraw a proposal to allow employers to begin supplying the most effective N95 masks for voluntary use by employees who work indoors or in large outdoor events and have not been fully vaccinated. Starting July 31st, this can be expensive and competitive. with the needs of public health officials
But “the N95 is the one that checks all those boxes” for safety, Stock said.
Cal/OSHA board regulations apply to nearly every workplace in the state. including employees in offices, factories and retail The epidemic rules apply to all employees. Except for those who work from home or have only one employee who has no contact with others.
Even before Wednesday’s vote Board members stressed that the revised rules are temporary. And they have appointed a sub-committee to continue the remedial action.