Oregon OSHA Proposes Draft Temporary Rule Addressing COVID-19

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Oregon OSHA proposed its “DRAFT Temporary Rule Addressing COVID-19” on August 17. The timeline for commenting on the proposed temporary rule is only two weeks. Oregon OSHA has indicated that it will accept public comments through August 31, with a planned adoption and effective date of no later than September 14.

The text of the DRAFT Temporary Rule Addressing COVID-19 is available here. Additional information about the draft rule is available on the Infectious Disease Rulemaking Advisory Committee page of Oregon OSHA’s website.

The draft rule would apply to all workplaces. Oregon OSHA has indicated that the purpose of the temporary rule is to “adopt an enforceable workplace health rule on an emergency basis this summer, to be replaced by a permanent rule.”

As the draft rule will affect all Oregon employers, we recommend reading the proposed text as soon as possible to understand how it could impact your business. There is only a short time to provide comment.

Below is a brief summary of the requirements that generally apply to all workplaces under the proposed rule:

  • The employer must ensure six-foot distancing between all individuals in the workplace with the following specific guidance:
    • Both the work activities and the workplace must be designed to eliminate the need for any worker to be within six feet of another individual in order to fulfill their duties.
    • To the extent that the employer can demonstrate that such separation is not practical, the employer must ensure that face coverings are worn and that as much distance as practical is maintained.
    • The six-foot distancing requirement can also be met with an impermeable barrier that creates a “droplet buffer” of at least six feet in distance as measured between the mouths of the affected individuals (the droplet buffer is effectively the distance a string would travel if it were held in the mouths of the two individuals – the rule draft provides several examples of such calculations).
  • The employer must ensure that everyone in the workplace or other premises subject to the employer’s control wears face coverings (masks, cloth coverings, or face shields) whenever the six-foot distancing requirement cannot be consistently assured.
  • All employers must ensure that all high-contact surfaces used by multiple employees (door handles, telephones, cash registers, computers, drinking fountains, seatbelts, etc.) are thoroughly cleaned at the beginning of each shift.
  • Employers with at least 25 employees at any time must designate one or more employees who will be responsible to assist the employer in identifying appropriate social distancing, proper face covering use, and sanitation measures and ensure such policies and procedures are implemented.
  • Building operators must ensure that the building layout allows appropriate social distancing and must ensure that the basic requirements of this rule are posted (and enforced to the degree reasonably possible) in any common areas, including shared entrances, waiting rooms, corridors, restrooms, and elevators.
  • Employers must provide information and training to their employees:
    • Employers must post the “COVID-19 Hazards Poster,” which will be provided by Oregon OSHA.
    • Employers must notify their employees about the social distancing requirements and how they will be implemented in the workplace, and employers must provide an opportunity for employee feedback about those practices (through the Social Distancing Officer and through either the Safety Committee, an interactive safety meeting, or both). Such notification must be conducted in a manner and language understood by the affected workers.
    • Employers must provide an explanation of the employer’s policies and procedures for employees to report signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Such explanations must be conducted in a manner and language understood by the affected workers.
  • Employers will also be required to address the medical removal of employees with symptoms, undergoing testing, or otherwise requiring isolation:
    • Employers must provide information about any paid leave to which employees would be entitled by company policy as well as under the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA).
    • Whenever a medical provider or public health official recommends isolation or quarantine, the worker(s) must be reassigned to duties that do not involve in-person contact. Such reassignment must continue until the need no longer exists, based on guidance from the medical provider or involved public health officials.
    • To the degree reassignment is not possible, the employer must allow workers to use leave to which they are entitled under the FFCRA. If the employer is not covered by the FFCRA or has previously opted out of the paid sick leave provisions of the FFCRA, then the employer must provide up to two weeks of paid reassignment leave in addition to whatever benefits to which the worker would otherwise be entitled.
    • Employees who are reassigned for medical removal reasons are entitled to return to their previous job duties without any adverse action as a result of the medical removal.

Key Contributors

Louis A. Ferreira
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