August 27, 2020

Temporary Rule Proposed by Oregon OSHA Would Address COVID-19 in All Workplaces

Oregon OSHA has proposed a temporary rule that would require employers in the state to implement measures to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID‐19 in all workplaces. The draft temporary standard addresses measures such as social distancing, barriers, face coverings, cleaning, and information sharing. The rule describes additional requirements for jobs that require workers to be within six feet of another person for 15 minutes or longer and include direct contact. Examples of these jobs include tattooing, massage, and hair dressing. Oregon OSHA’s press release explains that employers with workers in these situations would be required to conduct a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment to address items such as the frequency, duration, and variety of close-in work activities. And workplaces that present an “exceptional risk of exposure to COVID-19”— employers engaged in direct patient care and aerosol-generating procedures, for example—would be required to develop and implement an infection control plan under the temporary standard. The temporary rule could take effect by Sept. 14 and remain in effect for 180 days.

The full text of the draft standard and supporting documents are available from Oregon OSHA’s website. The agency is accepting public comments on the proposed rule via email through Sept. 7, 2020.

Oregon OSHA plans to pursue a permanent rulemaking intended to address potential future disease outbreaks. The agency describes the temporary and permanent rules as “two essentially different projects, in both nature and scope, recognizing that an ongoing infectious disease rule would not be as closely tailored to the current crisis as would a temporary rule.”

Last month, Virginia became the first state to adopt an emergency workplace safety standard for the COVID-19 pandemic. Virginia’s emergency temporary standard went into effect on July 27, and the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board has provided notice that it intends to adopt a permanent standard for infectious disease prevention within six months.