November 4, 2020
by Stephen Verotsky

OR OSHA still has not passed final rules relating to COVID-19

stephen verotskyIn June 2020 Oregon OSHA announced it would implement temporary workplace rules to address the COVID-19 hazard.  Oregon OSHA expected it would have the final rule in place by September 1, 2020.  After four drafts of the proposed rule, there is still no final rule. However, Oregon OSHA expects to have the rule in place by November 6, 2020. The delay is due in part to Oregon OSHA coordinating with the Oregon Health Authority which continues to refine the physical distancing and face covering guidelines for employers. Although, there is no rule in place, Oregon OSHA continues to inspect places of employment to ensure compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders and the evolving guidelines from the Oregon Health Authority.

On October 12, 2020 Oregon OSHA reported having received approximately 12,000 COVID-19 related complaints.  It also reports issuing approximately 40 citations with penalties ranging from $2,000 to $14,000. Employer compliance with the Oregon Health Authority guidelines can be very challenging because these guidelines have continued to change over the past seven months. Oregon OSHA’s goal is to replace the Oregon Health Authority guidelines and to create a standard that more clearly defines employer obligations.

Oregon OSHA’s draft rules are available on their website and not likely to change significantly over the next few days. These rules provide guidance to all employment but also includes more stringent requirements for “exceptional risk workplaces” (i.e. healthcare facilities).  In addition, there are industry specific guidelines which apply to various industries from restaurants, retail, veterinary clinics to jails. One of the key requirements for employers under the proposed rules is to conduct a risk assessment for the workplace that addresses the following:

  • Consider telework arrangements
  • Anticipated work distance between employees/customers
  • Modify duties to promote 6ft distance
  • Engineering controls/barriers/ventilation
  • If multiemployer worksite, then communication and coordination
  • Other ways to minimize exposure
  • Procedure for employees to report COVID related hazards

Employers risk significant fines if they do not conduct a risk assessment and enforce the physical distancing and face covering guidelines for employees and customers. If you have any questions concerning meeting Oregon OSHA’s COVID-19 expectations, please contact me at (503) 595-2136 or .