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Cal/OSHA air filtration requirements for employers during pandemic

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Posted at 5:09 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 21:18:46-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Cal/OSHA approved a new set of workplace emergency temporary standards on June 17.

One of the biggest takeaways was that workers no longer have to wear facial coverings if fully vaccinated. Still, there are a few things employers need to keep in mind when it comes to making sure there is adequate ventilation throughout the workplace.

Cal/OSHA said, “Employers must review the Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments,” and “Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems.”

RELATED: Cal/OSHA approves rules allowing fully vaccinated workers to go without masks

“We installed this air purifying machine last year in May,” said Patrizia Branchi, owner of the Operacaffe in the Gaslamp quarter.

She said before she knew just how bad the pandemic would get, she had the air purifying system installed last year. Although coronavirus restrictions have mostly been lifted, she said she is still cleaning strict cleaning and sanitizing protocols in place.

“We have somebody going to the restaurant every early morning to clean. We’re still sanitizing everything,” said Branchi, adding she also still offers masks to customers and employees who request one.

Legal analyst Dan Eaton said employers should be doing everything possible to keep their employers safe, but if workers don’t feel safe, they should speak to their employers about their concerns.

“This is basically telling employers that they should look at California Department of Public Health guidance and resource center there for air filtration,” he said. “At the end of the day, if employees aren’t satisfied, they can go to the website of the California Occupational Safety and Health information for further resources about ways to file a complaint.”

A spokesperson for Cal/OSHA tells ABC 10News that employees have the right to file a confidential complaint with Cal/OSHA, and that they will respond to all complaints. Cal/OSHA will also follow up with all complaints if an employee provides their contact information and name. "Cal/OSHA will get in touch with the employer to start an investigation or onsite inspection to ensure any unsafe conditions are corrected," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Cal/OSHA said the latest standards are legal requirements for employers “under Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations,” and Cal/OSHA can give citations with monetary penalties if the regulations are violated.