On January 5, 2022, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an updated Health Officer Order that includes additional face covering and COVID-19 testing requirements for workplaces. The Order goes into effect January 17, 2022.

New Face Covering Protections

The Los Angeles County Order updates its prior orders related to employer-provided face coverings to mandate that employees who work indoors and in close contact with other workers or the public must be provided with well-fitting medical grade masks, surgical masks, or higher-level respirators (e.g., N95s or KN95s). Such masks are required to be worn at all times while indoors at the worksite.

In light of this new requirement, employers must also comply with Cal/OSHA's requirements related to the use of face coverings and respirators. The Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard requires employers to provide face coverings to all employees who are not fully vaccinated and ensure the face covering is worn when indoors or in vehicles. Additionally, employers must provide notice to employees that 'face coverings' are not respiratory protective equipment whereas N95s or KN95s are respirators.

Employers must provide respirators to unvaccinated employees upon request for voluntary use. Whenever respirators are provided for voluntary use, employers must provide their employees training on how to properly wear the respirator and perform a seal check according to the manufacturer's instructions each time a respirator is worn. Employers must also put such employees on notice that facial hair interferes with a seal.

COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Employees Who Are Not Fully Vaccinated and Cannot Wear Face Coverings

The Los Angeles County Order also states that workers who are not fully vaccinated and cannot feasibly wear face coverings while performing their work duties must be tested for COVID-19 at least twice per week. Even if employees are fully vaccinated, the Los Angeles County Order encourages weekly testing for COVID-19 if workers cannot feasibly wear face coverings while performing their work duties.

The facts, laws, and regulations regarding COVID-19 are developing rapidly. Since the date of publication, there may be new or additional information not referenced in this advisory. Please consult with your legal counsel for guidance.

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