OR-OSHA Covid-19 Workplace Rules & Rule Making Timeline

Back in August, Oregon OSHA issued a Draft Temporary Rule Addressing Covid-19 and requested submission of public comments by September 7, 2020. The Draft Rule includes requirements for all workplaces and specific requirements for healthcare activities. On September 10, 2020, OR-OSHA revised the rule making timeline to indicate that the temporary  rule would be adopted and effective not later than October 1, 2020, to remain in place for 180 days (although selected provisions may have delayed effective dates). The permanent rule is not expected to be adopted until March 2021.

As a reminder, the Draft Rule includes the following general requirements that apply to all workplaces:

  • The employer must ensure 6-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 6-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 6-foot distancing requirement can also be met with an impermeable barrier that creates a “droplet buffer” of at least 6-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).
  • Whenever employees are transported in a motor vehicle for work purposes, the center points of the seats of any passengers not part of the same household must be separated by at least 3-feet.
  • 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 6-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.

Exception 1: Employers otherwise required to provide paid reassignment leave may count any benefits currently available that were not available prior to March 1, 2020.

Exception 2: Employers otherwise required to provide paid reassignment leave who experienced a reduction of more than 20 percent in gross revenue between the 2nd calendar quarter of 2019 and the 2nd calendar quarter of 2020 are not required to provide additional paid leave.

  • 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.

It is unclear which portions of the Draft Rule will go into effect on October 1, 2020, or which provisions will make it into the permanent rule (and many of the requirements are already in place based on CDC and OSHA Guidance) . However, employers should be aware of what is being considered, and potentially prepared to comply with the Draft Rule.

A summary of the Draft Rule is here:

The revised timeline is here:

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