Oregon OSHA Adopted Permanent COVID-19 Workplace Rules May 4, 2021
On May 4, 2021, the Oregon Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) adopted permanent workplace rules related to COVID-19. The temporary rules OSHA previously adopted on November 6, 2020 also expired on May 4, 2021. In replacing the temporary rule with a permanent rule, OSHA changed some provisions as more information became available about the transmission of the virus. Highlighted below are some of the key differences between the permanent rules and the temporary rules. While most of the rules went into effect May 4, 2021, the effective date of some of the new provisions will be delayed. June 3, 2021 is when the rule goes into effect for ventilation, transportation, employee notification, and the PPE supply and crisis management plan requirements and May 17, 2021 is when requirements related to respiratory protection for direct patient care go into effect. There is no sunset date for the permanent rules, however, OSHA has indicated the rules will be repealed when the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a threat to public health.
The permanent rule continues the basic requirements related to facial coverings and physical distancing. Face shields remain an option for source control, although their use is discouraged unless necessary.
The permanent rule continues the requirement that employers establish a process for notifying employees of potential workplace COVID-19 exposure within 24 hours. Employers must notify “exposed employees” (those who were within six feet of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes) and “affected employees” (those who worked in the same facility or well-defined portion of the facility). Employers may still use OSHA’s model policy to satisfy this requirement.
If an employer already conducted a risk assessment, completed an infection control plan and provided infection control training under the temporary rules, they do not need to do so again under the permanent rules.
The cleaning and sanitization requirements were updated to be consistent with new CDC guidance that such cleaning need only be done once a day.
Employers are directed to minimize employees traveling together in vehicles, where practical. Employees must wear face coverings and outside air flow in vehicles should be optimized if employees must travel together.
Employers with 10 or more employees must attest that HVAC systems are functioning consistent with rule requirements.
When employees must be absent from the workplace to quarantine because of an exposure, employers must notify them of their rights to return in writing and employers are encouraged, but not required, to provide datils of any paid leave benefits provided by the employer. Note: under new guidance from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) individuals who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic do not have to quarantine after an exposure.
The permanent rules will be regularly reviewed and reevaluated to determine if and when repeal of these rules is no longer necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The first of these reviews is scheduled for this July.
If you have any questions regarding the permanent rules, please do not hesitate to contact me at 503-595-6112 or