The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal/OSHA) of the Department of Industrial Relations has updated its Covid-19 guidelines for workplaces on June 17th, 2021. Updated regulations now require that all workplaces with more than one employee, including trucking companies and associations, must provide N95 masks to unvaccinated employees upon request at no cost to the employee.
This new guideline means that all employers and businesses will need to keep a stock of N95 masks that can be requested and worn voluntarily by their unvaccinated employees when working in indoor settings or at significant outdoor events with more than 10,000 attendees. Exceptions to this guideline include:
- Workplaces with only one employee that does not come into contact with other individuals
- Workplaces with employees that work remotely
- Employees teleworking from a public location chosen by the employee
Despite the changing regulations regarding mask-wearing and social distancing, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks in indoor settings. As the delta variant of the coronavirus spreads throughout the globe, the impacts are unknown, and vaccinated individuals may not be as well protected as we think.
According to USA Today, the delta variant is now accounting for 50% of coronavirus cases in the city of Los Angeles, even though it only accounts for 1 in 5 cases throughout the rest of the United States.
Additionally, while Biden set the goal of having 70% percent of the population vaccinated by the Fourth of July, only 47% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. 54.9% of the population has had at least one dose of the vaccine.
According to the Sacramento Bee, only 41% of residents in California who reside in under-resourced neighborhoods have received the Covid-19 vaccine, compared to 65% of the population being vaccinated in other California neighborhoods.
The above statistics mean that there are still many individuals who have yet to be vaccinated, and there are still likely many employees among your business’s workforce that are unvaccinated and require the N95 mask provision described above.
However, while a large portion of the country’s population has not yet been vaccinated, the decision as to whether to receive the vaccine remains a personal choice in most situations. The Cal/OSHA guidelines specify that retaliation in any way against employees who choose not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine is not permitted.
Studies have shown that vaccines are working well in preventing the spread and reducing the symptoms of Covid-19. However, those who are immunocompromised due to medication or disease may still be at risk regardless of their vaccination status.
In addition to providing employees with N95-grade masks to be worn while at work, the updated guidelines also still require a Covid-19 prevention program to be created and implemented by employers. These are some items that must be included in the prevention program:
- Educating workers about preventing Covid-19 in the workplace
- Providing Covid-19 training
- Providing personal protective equipment and other protective measures
- Offering free Covid-19 testing to employees who have been exposed in the workplace
- Provide return to work criteria and guidelines to employees who are exposed to Covid-19
- Maintain and report records of Covid-19 cases.
Businesses must continue to be prepared amidst the changing landscape of the Covid-19 pandemic. Between new coronavirus variants and unvaccinated individuals still at risk, employers must protect themselves and their workers by providing the proper PPE and equipment in the workplace and on job sites.
NewRain is a California-based medical supplier committed to providing PPE and other Covid-19 protective supplies to businesses that need these items. Visit their website https://newrain.org to learn more about how NewRain can help you maintain a safe and healthy workplace for your employees.