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Oregon OSHA proposes rule updates to maintain protections for workers against COVID-19

Posted October 13, 2021

Current protections for all Oregon workers against COVID-19 – including masking provisions renewed in response to the highly-infectious delta variant – would remain in place under a rule proposal by Oregon OSHA.

The proposal does not involve new or substantive changes to the division's existing rule addressing COVID-19 risks in Oregon workplaces. Instead, it formalizes updates to the rule the division has already made since the surge in infections from the delta variant that resulted in a record number of Oregonians hospitalized with COVID-19 in August and September.

Those updates reflect, in part, protective measures that were reinstated by the Oregon Health Authority's (OHA) adoption of statewide masking measures for indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as masking requirements for schools. Under state law, Oregon OSHA has the authority to enforce rules adopted by other state agencies for the health and safety of workers.

Oregon OSHA's rule proposal will undergo a series of virtual public hearings in early November. Adoption of any changes are anticipated in December.

As it has previously stated, Oregon OSHA intends to repeal the entire 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rulemaking advisory committees, and other stakeholders to determine when all of additional parts of the rule can be repealed.

The updates that would be maintained under the rule proposal include:

  • Employers with workers operating in indoor or outdoor workspaces must implement the masking requirements adopted by OHA.
  • Employers must ensure the provisions of OHA's masking 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  • The physical distancing requirements of Oregon OSHA's workplace COVID-19 rule are no longer in effect outside of health care and transit settings.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 workers engaged in direct patient care, or in direct support of such care, financial relief when such workers cannot work because of quarantine or isolation for COVID-19.

Oregon OSHA encourages a careful reading of the rule proposal. Virtual public hearings will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, and Wednesday, Nov. 3; 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 5; and 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8. Details about how to sign up for the hearings, a summary of the rule proposal, and options for commenting on it are now available.

The comment period will close Friday, Nov. 12.

Meanwhile, Oregon OSHA is also proposing updates to a COVID-19 rule that applies to employer-provided housing for workers. Details about how to sign up for the rule proposal's virtual public hearings, a summary of the rule proposal, and options for commenting on it by the Nov. 29 deadline are now available.

Learn more about Oregon OSHA's workplace guidance and resources related to COVID-19.

Learn more about the division's adopted rules, proposed rules, advisory committees, and related information.

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