10 things to know about OSHA’s COVID-19 temporary rule
Oregon OSHA has adopted a temporary rule to address the COVID-19 pandemic in all Oregon workplaces.
posted November 09, 2020
Oregon OSHA has adopted a temporary rule to address the COVID-19 pandemic in all Oregon workplaces. The rule will go into effect November 16, and will remain in effect until May 4, 2021.
Here are 10 points to get you started when preparing to implement the rule in your business.
Physical distancing: Employers must ensure that all individuals, including customers, vendors, and patrons, within the workplace must be six feet apart unless it can be shown it is not feasible for some activities.
Masks/face coverings: Employers must assure that all individuals ages 5 and older use face coverings, in accordance with requirements from the Oregon Health Authority. Employers also must supply face coverings at no cost to employees. Employees may choose to use their own masks. Face shields may be used but should be limited to those who cannot wear a mask, as masks are more effective.
Cleaning: Employers must provide employees with supplies and time for more frequent cleaning and to perform hand hygiene before using shared equipment, eating, or touching the face or eyes. Common areas, shared equipment, and high-touch surfaces must be cleaned frequently, depending on how long workplaces are occupied. Check the OSHA rule for more details.
Posting requirements: OSHA has created a COVID-19 Hazards Poster in English and Spanish. It must be posted in a central location where workers will see it. If employees are working remotely, the employee must be provided with the information electronically. Signs must be posted in places where face coverings are required.
Ventilation: Employers must use existing ventilation systems to maximize the circulation of outside air through the system whenever there are employees in the workplace and the outside air quality is at "good" or "moderate" levels. All air filters must be maintained and replaced as necessary to insure the proper function of the system. Intake ports that provide outside air must be cleaned, maintained, and cleared of any debris.
Exposure risk assessment: With feedback and participation from employees, employers must assess potential exposure to COVID-19 within the workplace. Employers with 10 or more employees, or those at workplaces with exceptional risk, must document the assessment in writing. See pages 9-11 of the OSHA rule for what must be specifically recorded, and the questions that must be addressed. Oregon OSHA has created a fillable exposure risk assessment form. SAIF is developing a combination exposure risk assessment/infection control plan as an option for employers to use.
Information and training: Specific training on COVID-19 mitigation measures must be provided to employees in a language they understand. Employers must solicit the feedback of employees on the elements of this temporary rule.
Infection control plan and notification: Employers must implement an infection control plan specific to the type of work performed on a facility-by-facility basis. The plan must include the procedures the employer will use to notify employees when they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Workers who had contact with the infected person must be notified within 24 hours of the employer's knowledge of the positive test. See more specific requirements on pages 11-12 of the rule.
Testing: When the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) or other public health agency recommends testing, the employer must make employees and appropriate space available for testing, at no cost to the employees. When an employer requires testing, the cost (including employees' time, travel, and the cost of the test) must be covered by the employer.
Quarantines: When the OHA, public health organization, or physician recommends quarantine or isolation, the worker must be allowed to work at home if suitable work is available. Once isolation ends, the employee must be allowed to return to their previous job duties.
Some requirements have deadlines as early as November 23, so be sure to carefully read the full details of the rule here.
The rule also has industry-specific and activity-specific requirements, and provisions for workplaces of exceptional risk, including enhanced training, additional infection control plan requirements, and specific ventilation requirements. These requirements supersede guidance in the rule and when areas are not addressed, the general rule applies.
A permanent rule addressing infectious diseases in the workplace is also in the works and could be implemented in 2021.
Learn more about preventing the spread of COVID-19 at saif.com/coronavirussafety.