Oregon OSHA proposes permanent workplace safety standard on COVID-19
Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA will conduct public hearings in February and March, as well as accept public comment through April 2, on its proposal for a permanent COVID-19 workplace safety standard to replace the temporary rule enacted in November.
According to a Feb. 1 press release, the proposed permanent standard would maintain many aspects of the temporary rule, which went into effect Nov. 16 and is slated to expire May 4. Those include requirements for physical distancing, use of face coverings, regular sanitation, employee notification and training, maintenance and maximization of existing ventilation systems, and formal exposure risk assessment and infection control planning.
However, the proposed permanent rule has additional measures and provisions. Among them:
- Employers must consider alternatives to transporting multiple people in a single vehicle, although the practice wouldn’t be prohibited.
- Modified ventilation requirements that call on employers with more than 10 employees to certify in writing that they’re running their systems in accordance with current rules. Purchasing or installing new ventilation systems wouldn’t be required.
- Employees who must quarantine must be provided written notification of their right to return to work.
- Employers are required to cooperate with public health officials who ask to arrange vaccination at the workplace.
- Health care employers must provide respirators to employees who are working with patients suspected or known to have COVID-19, unless the employer can demonstrate a shortage they’re working to resolve.
Oregon OSHA – which operates under federal OSHA’s State Plan program – says that, by law, a temporary rule cannot be extended, and it intends to repeal the permanent standard once it’s no longer needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The public health emergency triggered by COVID-19 remains a significant concern in Oregon – as we know, we have not yet defeated this disease and we clearly will not have done so by the time the temporary rule expires,” Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood said in the release. “As a result, it is critically important that we carry forward measures that we know are effective at combating the spread of this disease and reducing risks in the workplace. Failure to do so will undoubtedly leave workers far less protected and leave employers with far less clarity and certainty in terms of what is expected of them.”
Virtual meetings are scheduled for 10 a.m. Pacific on Feb. 23 and 26, and 5 p.m. Pacific on March 3 and 4.