OSHA, OSHA…..IMPORTANT – Final Temporary COVID-19 Rules for Employers

Posted by Christy Putnam on November 13, 2020 at 2:52 PM

Oregon OSHA Final Temporary COVID-19 RulesOn November 6, 2020, Oregon OSHA issued final temporary rules to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in workplaces by requiring employers to implement a comprehensive set of risk-reducing measures. The rules will take effect November 16th, with some tasks phased in, and are expected to remain in effect until May 4, 2021. These new rules affect all employers and include additional requirements for high-risk jobs.

The following is a summary taken from the final temporary rules requirements for all workplaces:

  • Physical distancing. All employers must ensure that both work activities and workflow are designed to eliminate the need for any employee to be within 6 feet of another individual in order to fulfill their job duties, unless the employer determines and can demonstrate that such physical distancing is not feasible for certain activities.
  • Mask, face covering, or face shield requirements. Each employer must ensure that all individuals at the workplace or other premises subject to the employer’s control wear a mask, face covering, or face shield in accordance with the requirements of the Oregon Health Authority’s Statewide Mask, Face Covering, Face Shield Guidance. The employer must provide masks, face coverings, or face shields for employees at no cost to the worker. Employees can choose to wear their own mask or face covering instead of those provided by the employer.
  • Cleaning and sanitation. The employer must regularly clean or sanitize all common areas, shared equipment, and high-touch surfaces as defined by this rule that are under its control and that are used by employees or the public.
  • Posting requirements. The COVID-19 Hazards Poster, provided by Oregon OSHA, must be posted in a conspicuous manner in a central location where workers can be expected to see it (for example, a location where employees report each day or at a location from which employees operate to carry out their activities). Employees working remotely must be provided with a copy of the COVID-19 Hazards Poster through electronic or equally effective means.
  • Building operators. No later than November 23, 2020, those employers who operate or otherwise control buildings where the employees of other employer’s work have responsibilities to meet the sanitation requirements rules as well as to post signs regarding face-covering requirements.
  • Ventilation requirements. No later than January 6, 2021, the employer must optimize the amount of outside air circulated through its workplace, to the extent the system can do so when operating as designed, whenever there are employees in the workplace and the outdoor air quality index remains at either “good” or “moderate” levels. This does not require installation of new ventilation equipment.
  • Exposure risk assessment. By December 7, 2020, all employers must conduct a “COVID-19 exposure risk assessment.” This assessment does not take into account the use of personal protective equipment or face coverings, such as masks and face shields. The assessment requires feedback and participation by employees. This can be accomplished through an interactive process with employees, such as a safety meeting, safety committee, union involvement, etc. A sample Exposure Risk Assessment Form is available on the Oregon OSHA website. After feedback is gathered from employees, employers with more than 10 Oregon employees (including temporary or part-time workers) or employers with “an exceptional risk workplace” must document in writing their COVID-19 risk assessment.
  • Infection control plan. No later than December 7, 2020, all employers are required to establish and implement an “infection control plan” based on their exposure risk assessment. Employers with 10 or more employees must put the plan in writing and have it available to employees. The plan has six required elements: list of all job assignments and tasks, procedure for providing face-covering, hazard control procedures, face-covering requirements, procedure for how to communicate worksites exposure to infection, and procedure for communication of employee information and required training.
  • Employee information and training. No later than December 21, 2020, employers must provide employees with information and training regarding COVID-19. OR-OSHA is planning to publish model training materials shortly. The trainings can be provided remotely, but they must be done in a language understood by the employees and must offer employees the opportunity to provide feedback.
  • COVID-19 infection notification process. The employer must establish a process to notify exposed employees (those who were within 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more, regardless of whether one or both of them were wearing source control) that they had a work-related contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, as well as to notify affected employees (those who worked in the same facility or in the same well-defined portion of the facility such as a particular floor) that an individual who was present in the facility has confirmed COVID-19. OSHA is planning to publish a model procedure.
  • COVID-19 testing for workers. The employer must make its employees and appropriate space available at no cost to the workers whenever a local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority indicate testing within the workplace is necessary. If such testing is conducted at the employer’s own direction, the employer is responsible for covering the costs of testing. However, if the employer is not requesting the test, the employer is not expected to cover the direct cost of testing.
  • Medical removal. Whenever the Oregon Health Authority, local public health agency, or medical provider recommends an employee be restricted from work due to quarantine or isolation for COVID-19, such as through identification during contact tracing activities, the affected worker(s) must be directed to isolate at home and away from other non-quarantined individuals.

This is a very long list with a lot of short turnaround times to accomplish the tasks. The Overview Table for Oregon OSHA COVID-19 Workplace Risks will hopefully help you better understand what your specific requirements are based on company size and industry. Bennett/Porter will continue to update you regarding additional resources as they are released.

Topics: HR Compliance, HR Policies, COVID-19, workplace safety

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