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Oregon OSHA lifts face covering, physical distancing rules for workers

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Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA has removed the face covering and physical distancing requirements from its COVID-19 workplace protection rules for most establishments, with the exception of health care settings, public transit and airports.

The announcement, made in a June 30 press release from the agency, is consistent with the state’s reopening plan, unveiled in an Executive Order signed five days earlier by Gov. Kate Brown (D). The order directed Oregon OSHA to lift all COVID-19-related health and safety restrictions by June 30 or when 70% of the state’s adult residents are at least partially vaccinated against the virus.

Although the two key requirements have been removed, Oregon OSHA reminds employers that not all COVID-19 workplace health and safety rules are going away. The agency – which operates under federal OSHA’s State Plan program – notes that requirements regarding optimization of ventilation, notification of a positive case in the workplace and proper steps to take if an employee must quarantine remain in effect. Provisions addressing employer-provided housing, such as bed placement and use of air purifiers, also remain.

 

“It is heartening to see that we have come so far and are experiencing an improving situation,” Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood said in the release. “But the risks remain real – especially for those who are not fully vaccinated. That is why, from a risk management standpoint, it makes sense to keep some provisions of our workplace requirements in place longer.”

The changes don’t preclude employers from putting their own face covering and physical distancing measures in place, as long as they do so according to public health guidelines and keep accommodations for people with disabilities in mind, the agency notes.

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