Update: On October 13, 2020, Oregon OSHA issued a revised draft of its COVID-19 Temporary Standard which includes, among other things, new deadlines by which employer’s must comply with the requirements.  The most recent draft of the Temporary Standard can be found here.

On September 25, 2020, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Oregon OSHA”) issued its draft COVID-19 Temporary Standard. Oregon OSHA intends to adopt this Temporary Standard on October 21, 2020, with an anticipated effective date of November 1, 2020. The Temporary Standard will take time to implement, so employers are encouraged to begin taking steps to comply as soon as possible. While many of the requirements in the Temporary Standard are likely already in place in your workplace, there are new items in this rule that Oregon OSHA has not previously expressed. Those include ensuring adequate ventilation and creating a process to notify employees of potential exposure.

This is the second draft COVID-19 Temporary Standard issued by Oregon OSHA. The first Temporary Standard was issued on August 17, 2020, and was followed by an opportunity for public comment. The most recent draft takes into consideration those comments the agency has received, and thus, no substantive changes to the Temporary Standard are expected before the final draft is adopted. For a summary of the first draft of the COVID-19 Temporary Standard, click here.

The COVID-19 Temporary Standard applies to all workplaces in Oregon. There are additional requirements in the rule that apply to exceptional risk workplaces and employees, such as healthcare facilities and first responders. Not surprisingly, the requirements for all workplaces in Oregon include mandates for physical distancing, face covering, and sanitation. Under the Temporary Standard, employers are not only required to mandate that face coverings be worn by employees, but they must also require face coverings to be worn by customers, vendors, and patrons whenever they are not actively eating, drinking, or smoking. In addition, face coverings with vents or holes designed to facilitate easy exhalation are not adequate masks. A brief overview of the other requirements for all workplaces are below:

  • Post the “COVID-19 Hazards Poster” in a conspicuous location and at entrances to any indoor workplace or bathroom;
  • Use existing HVAC system(s) to circulate air whenever employees are in the workplace and ensure that the HVAC system(s) is properly maintained and cleaned;
  • Designate a “Distancing Officer” to assist employer in implementing COVID-19 policies;
  • Conduct an exposure risk assessment addressing specific questions assessing potential employee exposure to COVID-19 (if an employer has more than 10 employees, the exposure risk assessment must be in writing);
  • Provide training for employees on COVID-19 policies;
  • Establish a process to notify an employee within 48 hours if they have had work-related contact with an individual who has tested positive;
  • Cooperate with state or local health authority to make employees and appropriate space available to conduct testing within the workplace, if necessary;
  • Whenever an employee receives a recommendation to quarantine, the affected worker(s) must be reassigned to duties that do not involve in-person contact with other workers or the public.

The new draft Temporary Standard removes the controversial provision in the original draft that would have required employers to provide paid leave to employees who were required to quarantine and who were unable to be reassigned. It would have applied regardless of whether the exposure occurs while the employee is at work. The removal of this requirement is welcome news to Oregon employers. However, this latest draft does contain a number of new requirements compared to the first draft, so employers are encouraged to carefully review the new Temporary Standard and begin taking steps to comply right away.

If you have any questions about the COVID-19 Temporary Standard, please contact Josh Dennis at jdennis@schwabe.com or 503-796-2985, or Amanda Gamblin at agamblin@schwabe.com or 503-796-2903.

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