Oregon OSHA has been hard at work creating a new temporary rule to help protect Oregon workers during the current pandemic. Stakeholders, business owners and worker advocates have actively engaged in in this rulemaking process by sharing feedback and comments back to Oregon OSHA. This Temporary Rule Addressing COVID-19 (437-001-0744) takes effect today – November 16, 2020. It will remain in effect until May 4, 2021, unless revised or repealed before that date, this timing to coincide with adoption of a new permanent infectious disease standard.
As we enter colder months and the approach of many holidays, we know it is a difficult time to imagine the important work ahead of us as we attempt to reduce the spread of this quickly spreading infection. And yet, the increasing number of cases and hospitalizations remind us that we must continue to be diligent and steadfast as we take measures to protect all our communities.
Keep in mind that while the regulation is effective today, there are sections of it with staggered effective dates. Employers might do best, as they review all the requirements, to identify what they are already doing and how they can prioritize those things needing to be done in the future. Here are some resources to help you along:
- Get a short summary of the intention of the rule and its provisions by reading this news release from Oregon OSHA on November 13, 2020.
- View the Oregon OSHA Temporary Rule Addressing COVID-19 Workplace Risks. Keep in mind that the rule addresses all workers in Oregon (or those covered by worker compensation insurance, other than agriculture who are covered by a different rule). Several job tasks are noted as at Exceptional Risk, and have additional requirements.
- Within the rule, the Scope and Application help define who is covered and those activities at Exceptional Risk.
- Read the definitions section to be clear about the meaning of terms and descriptions found in the rule.
- All workplaces must meet the requirements set out in Section 2. Only those job tasks identified as Exceptional Risk must meet the requirements set out in Section 3.
- Nineteen appendices are found at the end of the regulation and are to be used as mandatory guidance for Industry-Specific and Activity-Specific Activities. Make sure to check to see if your industry is represented here (e.g., restaurants, retail stores, transit agencies, K-12 educational institutions, and so forth). Appendices link to resources, as applicable to the industry, from Oregon Health Authority (e.g., signs you can post).
- Make use of additional resources from Oregon OSHA available on their Rule Updates Page. It’s worth looking at all the resources related to COVID-19 on Rule Updates Page, but listed below are those particularly relevant to the new standard.
- Overview table of rule requirements.
- Workplace poster to post in workplace in English and Spanish
- Exposure Risk Assessment Form (fill-in) or PDF (note: a risk assessment is required for all workplaces.)
- Model Policy for Notification of Employees when COVID-19 Exposure Happens in English and Spanish.
Finally, here’s a few other tips for understanding the new regulation and moving your organization along in complying with it so to better protect your workforce:
- Listen in to Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood address questions and answers on FaceBook Live presented via Oregon OSHA’s facebook page this Friday, November 20 at noon.
- Check in with your organization’s Worker Compensation Insurer to see what resources they have available for policy holders. SAIF has posted an informative Employer Guide about the OSHA Rule.
- If you are a member of a trade, employer or professional association, make sure to check in with them about additional resources relevant to the pandemic. Some examples: American Society of Safety Engineers, American Industrial Hygiene Association, Oregon COVID-19 Construction Task Force.