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Oregon OSHA adopts rule updates to preserve protections for workers against COVID-19

Posted December 21, 2021

Oregon OSHA has adopted rule updates that maintain current protections for all Oregon workers against the spread of COVID-19.

Effective Dec. 21, 2021, the rule adoption formalizes updates to the rule the division had already made on a temporary basis in summer 2021. The action was necessary to avoid the rule reverting to earlier requirements that were no longer in line with state public health guidance and federal OSHA requirements.

Oregon OSHA's updates to the workplace rule reflect, in part, changes to protective measures initiated by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). The changes made by OHA included removal of facial coverings outdoors while keeping in place the use of facial coverings indoors. Under the indoor requirement, employers must implement facial coverings for employees working in indoor workspaces. Under state law, Oregon OSHA has the authority to enforce rules adopted by other state agencies for the health and safety of workers.

The division's adoption of the rule followed four public hearings in November and a period for accepting written public comments.

As it has previously stated, Oregon OSHA intends to repeal the entire workplace rule once it is no longer necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon workplaces. Discussions continue with the Oregon OSHA Partnership Committee, OHA, two infectious disease rulemaking advisory committees, and other stakeholders to determine when all of the additional parts of the rule can be repealed.

The adopted rule's updates include:

  • Employers with workers operating in indoor workspaces must implement the facial covering requirements adopted by OHA
  • Employers must ensure the provisions of OHA's facial covering requirements in schools and other employee protections imposed by OHA or the Oregon Department of Education are followed in public and private K-12 schools.
  • The physical distancing requirements of Oregon OSHA's workplace COVID-19 rule are no longer in effect outside of health care and transit settings.
  • Except for health care settings, Oregon OSHA no longer requires employers to regularly clean or sanitize common areas, shared equipment, and high-touch surfaces. Other sanitation measures in the division's rule remain in effect for all workplaces.
  • To ensure Oregon OSHA's rule is at least as effective as federal OSHA's COVID-19 emergency temporary standard, employers in the health care sector must provide certain workers financial relief when such workers cannot work because of quarantine or isolation for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Oregon OSHA's rule adoption included updated protective measures addressing the risks of COVID-19 in employer-provided housing.

More information about the adopted rules – including the text of changes, filing documents, and notice letters – are available on the division's adopted rules page.