Portland, Ore. – New covid rules for employers and your workplace start Monday in Oregon. Aaron Corvin with OHSA the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Oregon says the rules to stop the virus will be in place until May 2021. They’re based on the guidelines already in place from Oregon Health Authority officials, including workers have to social distance and wear masks. But there are some new rules too. New requirements for the boss include conducting a virus exposure risk assessment, to find and fix the weakest link in your workplace when it comes to coronavirus. Also maximizing the effectiveness of existing ventilation systems and HVAC units, and develop an infection control plan.
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Oregon OSHA has adopted a temporary rule that combats the spread of coronavirus in all workplaces by requiring employers to carry out a comprehensive set of risk-reducing measures.
The rule will take effect Nov. 16, with certain parts phased in, and is expected to remain in effect until May 4, 2021. It is a continuation of the guidance produced by the Oregon Health Authority and enforced in the workplace by Oregon OSHA, including physical distancing, use of face coverings, and sanitation.
The rule is intended to further improve the current structure for reducing risks in the workplace by requiring several measures many employers have voluntarily implemented. For example, it requires employers to notify employees of a workplace infection and provide training to workers on how to reduce risks. Likewise, employers must formally assess the risk of exposure, develop infection control plans, and address indoor air quality within their current capability.
“We believe compliance with this rule will help reduce the serious threat to workers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “It does so by establishing a clear, practical, and consistent set of measures for employers.”
Those measures – along with more requirements for exceptionally high-risk jobs, such as direct patient care – are part of Oregon OSHA’s ongoing enforcement and educational efforts to help protect workers from the coronavirus disease.
Beginning in late June, the process to develop the temporary rule included more than a dozen virtual forums dealing with specific issues and industries before the first of four stakeholder review drafts was even developed. And each subsequent draft incorporated changes resulting from Oregon OSHA’s discussion with a large number of employer and worker representatives, as well as feedback from the public at large.
Adoption of the temporary rule brings the requirements within the existing rulemaking authority of the Oregon Safe Employment Act. The law governs workplace safety and health in Oregon, including protections for a worker’s right to raise on-the-job health and safety concerns free from retaliation.
In the weeks ahead, Oregon OSHA will provide educational resources to help employers and workers understand and apply the requirements. Already, the division offers consultation services that provide no-cost assistance with safety and health programs and technical staff, who help employers understand requirements. The COVID-19 Hazards Poster – provided by the division and required by the temporary rule to be posted – is now available in both English and Spanish. And the division is providing a user-friendly overview table of the temporary rule, summarizing the requirements and how they apply, and showing the effective dates of the phased-in provisions.
Oregon OSHA encourages a careful reading of the temporary rule, which includes an appendix that contains provisions for specific industries and workplace activities. The temporary rule’s requirements include:
Masks, face covering, or face shields
Exposure risk assessment
Infection control plan
Information and training
Notification, testing, medical removal
The rule requires more measures for exceptionally high-risk jobs. Such jobs include direct patient care or decontamination work; aerosol-generating or postmortem procedures; and first-responder activities. The additional measures include:
Meanwhile, an executive order issued Oct. 23 by Gov. Kate Brown extended COVID-19 protections for agricultural workers in employer-provided housing through the off season.
Following adoption of its temporary COVID-19 rule for all workplaces, Oregon OSHA continues to pursue permanent rulemaking that would provide a structure for responding to potential future disease outbreaks. More information is available on the division’s infectious disease rulemaking page and on its COVID-19 resources page.
As a temporary rule addressing COVID-19 in all workplaces is set to take effect Monday – with certain parts phased in later – Oregon OSHA encourages employers and workers to use the division’s resources to help understand and comply with the requirements.
The following resources are now available online under “Documents,” with more on the way in the weeks to come:
Oregon OSHA urges a careful reading of the temporary rule, which is intended to curb the spread of coronavirus in all workplaces by requiring employers to implement a comprehensive set of risk-reducing measures. It is expected to remain in effect until May 4, 2021.
Meanwhile, the division offers consultation services and technical specialists to help employers comply with the requirements. Here is the contact information for both:
Consultation services – Provides no-cost assistance with safety and health programs
Technical staff – Helps employers understand requirements
Beginning in late June, Oregon OSHA’s process to develop the temporary rule included more than a dozen virtual forums dealing with specific issues and industries before the first of four stakeholder review drafts was even developed. Each subsequent draft incorporated changes resulting from the division’s discussion with a large number of employer and worker representatives, as well as feedback from the public at large.