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Oregon OSHA seeks to extend COVID-19 worker protections to employer-provided housing

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Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA is accepting public comment on a proposed rule that would require COVID-19-related protective measures to be extended to housing provided by employers, including as part of farming operations.

According to a March 2 press release, the proposed rule would replace the state’s labor-housing requirements that were established via an Executive Order signed by Gov. Kate Brown (D) in October and would be repealed when no longer needed. The Executive Order is set to expire April 30.

Although similar to the previous protection requirements adopted on a temporary basis by Oregon OSHA in April 2020 and extended via the Executive Order, the proposed rule includes updates stemming from experiences since the onset of the pandemic. The updates include those specific to ventilation; masks, face coverings and faceshields; physical distancing; and cleaning and sanitation.

The agency – which operates under federal OSHA’s State Plan program – has scheduled three virtual public hearings (all times Pacific):

“While there is good news on the horizon, the public health challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic remain a significant concern in Oregon,” Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood said in the release. “We believe this proposed rule addresses those challenges by protecting vulnerable workers – especially those who spend both their work and off-work hours at the employer’s location.”

The comment period runs through April 16.

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