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New Cal/OSHA ETS return-to-work criteria in place

January 14, 2022 11887

The Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) are effective today, Jan. 14, with changes including: 

  • Return-to-work criteria is based on employee vaccination status and test results. Additional details are provided below. 
  • Isolation and quarantine periods range from 0-10 days for health care personnel (HCP) based on vaccination status and negative test results.  
  • Employers must make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during paid time to all workers who had a close contact with a COVID-19 case in the workplace, regardless of workers’ vaccination status and even if they are asymptomatic. “Close contact” is defined below. 
  • Revised definition of “COVID-19 test” specifies employers or a telehealth professional must observe the test and results if worker uses an at-home test with self-read results. 
  • Employees who are exempt from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition and who cannot wear a nonrestrictive alternative must be six feet from all other persons and either be fully vaccinated or test weekly for COVID-19 during paid time. 
  • Employers must make additional changes to their Injury and Illness Prevention Plan COVID-19 addendum based on the above-noted bullets as well as the specific return-to-work criteria noted below. 

What we know 

Quarantine and other requirements vary depending on an employee’s COVID-19 vaccination and test status. Refer to the CDC's information on COVID-19 Booster Shots to determine who is booster-eligible. 

Here’s what the ETS return-to-work guidance says. 

Employees who test positive for COVID-19 (Isolation) 

All employees, regardless of vaccination status, previous infection or lack of symptoms, who have COVID-19 may end isolation: 

  • After fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications; and 
  • Symptoms have improved; and 
  • Either at least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared or date of positive test, or at least five days have passed and a diagnostic specimen collected on the fifth day is negative. Antigen test preferred. Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days after the positive test, especially in indoor settings. Please refer to the section in the Cal/OSHA ETS FAQ on face coverings for additional face covering requirements. 

Quarantine for employees who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 (Exposure) 

Employees who are unvaccinated, or vaccinated and booster-eligible but have not yet received their booster dose, must quarantine until: 

  • No symptoms are experienced and 
  • Either 10 days have passed since the last close contact with COVID-19 or five days if a diagnostic specimen collected five or more days after the last close contact provides a negative test result. An employee who is fully vaccinated, booster eligible but not boosted need not be quarantined if a diagnostic specimen collected 3-5 days after the last close contact provides a negative test result. 

Employees must wear face coverings around others for a total of 10 days after exposure, especially in indoor settings.  

If an exposed employee tests positive for COVID-19, they must follow the isolation requirements noted above. 

If an exposed employee develops symptoms, they must be excluded pending the results of a test. 

No quarantine for employees who are up to date on vaccinations and had close contact with someone with COVID-19 

Again, for purposes of following this guidance, employers should refer to CDC's page on COVID-19 Booster Shots to determine who is booster eligible.  

Employees who are boosted, or vaccinated but not yet booster-eligible, do not need to quarantine as long as they: 

  • Test on day 5 with a negative result. 
  • Wear face coverings around others for 10 days after exposure. If employees test positive, they must follow isolation recommendations above. 

If employees develop symptoms, they must be excluded from the workplace pending the results of a test. 

If tests cannot be obtained following a close contact:  

  • Employees who are not up to date on their vaccinations must continue to quarantine for at least 10 days as explained above.  
  • Until further California guidance is released, when an employee who is current on their vaccinations is unable to test on day 5 after a close contact, the current ETS guidance applies. As of Jan. 14, 2022, this means employees who are up to date on their vaccinations and cannot be tested on day 5 will need to wear a face covering and maintain six feet of distance for 14 days following the close contact.  

CDA is working with state agencies to ensure that future regulatory guidance includes an exemption to this more stringent requirement when respiratory protection is used.  

Stricter guidance applies 

In addition to the above, when an order to isolate, quarantine or exclude an employee is issued by a local or state health official, the employee shall not return to work until the period of isolation or quarantine is completed or the order is lifted even if the order exceeds the specified exclusion requirements in the ETS or California Department of Public Health recommendation. 

Dentists are reminded to comply with the most stringent guidance offered by local, state or federal agencies. For example, if a dentist’s city or county mandates a 10-day post-exposure quarantine, but a state or federal agency mandates a five-day quarantine, dentists must follow the stricter (10-day) local mandate. CDA has a resource to assist compliance with local public health orders.  

Close contact definition  

When determining employee exposure, “close contact” is defined by Cal/OSHA as being within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period regardless of location, except if an individual is wearing a properly fitted respirator such as an N95. 

What we are working on 

CDA continues to work diligently on our members’ behalf, including with state dental director Dr. Jay Kumar, Cal/OSHA and the Newsom Administration to obtain the necessary clarification and guidance from the various regulatory agencies. We are working to reduce the confusion in the government guidelines and create tools to help practices manage workplace infection, staffing questions and patient management.  

We will continue to advocate for guidance that acknowledges the safe infection-control practices in dental offices that have continued to protect dental teams and the public throughout the pandemic. We will confirm the information shared is accurate and useful. 

What you can do now 

CDA will provide updated tools and resources to assist compliance with the Cal/OSHA ETS. Please watch for additional information in the CDA newsroom and through CDA’s social media channels. 

Updated CDA resources:  

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