Oregon Proposes New Rule for Worker Virus Protection

Oregon Proposes New Rule for Worker Virus Protection

A new proposed rule from the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration would mandate CDC recommendations to keep workers safe amid the pandemic.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed a COVID-19 worker protection rule that would make CDC recommendations mandatory for workplaces with at least 25 employees. The Oregon agency plans to enact the temporary regulation by Sept. 14 and if the state pursues a permanent rule, it could be in place by March 1, 2021. 

The draft includes several new mandatory procedures, including the general recommended practices set forth by the CDC. Employers would be required to ensure a 6-foot distance between workers or, if that was not realistic, erect barriers and require workers to wear face coverings. 

Under the new rule, workplaces with at least 25 employees would also need to designate at least one person to be responsible for identifying safety measures and ensuring policies are implemented. Office workers would have to wear masks when not at their desks or seated in a conference room, or whenever social distancing was not possible, such as in corridors, restrooms, elevators and stairwells. 

The rule even spreads to transportation. In situations where workers must be in close quarters while traveling together in a vehicle, the center points of seats used by passengers (who aren't apart of the same household) must be at least 3 feet apart. Everyone in the vehicle must wear a mask.

In cases where health officials have decided an employee should be quarantined and can't work, employers would have to provide up to two weeks of paid reassignment leave in addition to whatever benefits the worker is entitled to receive. 

Oregon is the second state to propose a workplace virus protection program for employees and workers that would be enforced by its worker safety agency. Virginia enacted its rule on July 27. Other states such as Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada and Washington, are enforcing executive orders issued by their governors. The federal OSHA hasn't pursued a temporary COVID-19 rule, with agency leadership their existing regulations and laws are adequate.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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