I Want to Have a Safer and Healthier Workplace What safe and healthful work practices are required?

Physical Distancing

There are no physical distancing or barrier requirements in the workplace regardless of employee vaccination status with the following exceptions:

    • There is an unvaccinated employee that, for medical reasons, is not able to wear a face covering or non-restrictive alternative and other employees are not fully vaccinated or tested at least weekly.
    • Employers must evaluate whether it is necessary to implement physical distancing and barriers during an outbreak (3 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)
    • Employers must implement physical distancing and barriers during a major outbreak (20 or more cases in an exposed group of employees)


You must encourage hand washing and allow more time for frequent, adequate hand washing, which includes:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Washing commonly missed areas such as palms, back of hand, thumbs, underneath fingernails and between fingers.

Hand Sanitizer

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, provide employees with an effective hand sanitizer by distributing them at various locations throughout the worksite. Hand sanitizer is not as effective as hand washing but it can be used if soap and water are not immediately available. Do not provide or allow the use of hand sanitizers with methyl alcohol.

Cleaning Commonly Touched Surfaces

You must establish procedures to routinely clean commonly touched objects and surfaces. You should ensure there is adequate time and supplies to support cleaning practices. These cleaning procedures must include:

  • Identifying and regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, equipment, tools, handrails, handles, controls, bathroom surfaces and steering wheels.
  • Informing employees and authorized employee representatives of cleaning and protocols, including the planned frequency and scope of regular cleaning, and disinfection of an area used by an employee COVID-19 case.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of areas, material, and equipment used by a COVID-19 case during the high-risk exposure period.

Infection Prevention Supplies

The commonly touched surfaces in your workplace should be more frequently cleaned with products that are EPA-approved for use against COVID-19. You should ensure correct use of any product and any protective equipment that is required.

Face Coverings

Employers must provide and ensure the proper use of face coverings in the workplace under certain conditions.

  • When an employee requests a face covering, regardless of their vaccination status.
  • Employees are not required to wear face coverings when outdoors regardless of vaccination status except for certain employees during outbreaks.
  • Fully vaccinated employees working indoors do not need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where CDPH requires all persons to wear face coverings.
  • Employees required to wear face coverings may not do so under certain conditions.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated may request respirators such as N95 masks for voluntary use from their employers at no cost and without fear of retaliation from their employers.
  • It is illegal for employers to retaliate against any worker for using a face covering.

Employers must record the vaccination status for any employee not wearing a face covering indoors and this record must be kept confidential. Cal/OSHA's regulations do not specify exactly how the vaccination status must be recorded. Acceptable options include:

  • Employees provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card or health care document showing vaccination status) and employer maintains a copy.
  • Employees provide proof of vaccination. The employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself.
  • Employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.
  • Employers can require all employees wear a face covering instead of having a documentation process.

Indoor Airflow and Filtration

To make the workplace safer from COVID-19, employers must evaluate how to increase airflow and filtration at work. This means employers must take steps to improve airflow and filtration whenever possible. Cal/OSHA has guidance to help employers evaluate airflow in different settings. Visit https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/COVID19FAQs.html#ventilation

The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards requires employers to review CDPH’s Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.

Permit and Encourage Use of Paid Sick Leave and Workers' Compensation

If a worker is sick or has been exposed to COVID-19 you must provide the worker with certain wages and/or benefits. For more detailed information on the wages or benefits listed below, explore the page A worker may be sick or exposed to COVID-19 at my workplace on this site.

Paid Sick Leave

You may be obligated to provide paid sick leave (PSL) or allow a worker to finish using their supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL).

If your workers qualify for PSL, you must permit them to take the leave immediately upon their written or oral request.

Workers' Compensation

If a test confirms an employee has COVID-19 and was exposed to COVID-19 at work, the employee might be eligible for workers' compensation, which provides benefits that include:

Remember: Taking an adverse act, including cutting pay or hours, terminating or suspending, in response to workers exercising their rights under the law, including making an oral or written complaint about working conditions or demand for benefits, is unlawful retaliation.

More Resources:

Take an online workplace health and safety training on COVID-19 infection prevention

June 2021