The COVID-19 pandemic and associated closures have devastated businesses across Oregon. And now, OR-OSHA is moving forward with a new COVID-19 Standard that is intended to protect employees during the pandemic. Unfortunately, as drafted these rules could actually harm Oregon businesses and create a significant cost burden! OR-OSHA has committed to finalizing the rules by September 21st and needs to hear from impacted employers before Monday, September 7th before these rules are finalized.

A full summary of the draft rules can be found HERE. Key issues include:

  • New sanitization requirements that mandate the cleaning of all high-touch surfaces and shared equipment each time before use by another employee or customer. It’s totally unreasonable to demand that a workplace sanitize every door handle and restroom stall between each individual use!
  • A 3-foot social distancing requirement for all employer-provided transportation.
  • A new 80+ hour paid leave mandate requiring ALL EMPLOYERS to provide paid leave (and benefits) whenever an employee is exposed to the COVID-19 virus, regardless of whether the exposure occurred at work or at a party or in their private residence. Note that this will be enforceable by BOLI, OR-OSHA and through a Private Right of Action against the employer!

Enough is enough! In June 2020, the Oregon legislature actually declined to move forward with this flawed concept, removing it from the omnibus COVID-19 policy package during the First Special Session. Now OR-OSHA is advancing this new mandate DESPITE clear legislative intent. The agency needs to hear from impacted stakeholders today before they finalize the temporary COVID-19 Standard. Comments are due by September 7th.

We know that you are taking precautions in your business to keep your customers and employees safe and will continue to do so. The safety of our neighbors is important to all of us. But the proposed rules add costly new workplace standards and a new paid leave mandate that will apply to all public and private employers. You are all trying to do our best, some of the proposals put forward by OR-OSHA are concerning and we want to make sure you have an opportunity to make comments.

Your Chamber is compiling comments to submit on our member businesses’ behalf and want to make sure your voice is heard. You can either respond with your comments via email or use this link to schedule time to visit with me.

Alternatively, you can email your comments directly to OSHA at tech.web@oregon.gov. We suggest you also copy Senator LinthicumRepresentative Reschke, and Representative Breese Iverson,

If you have any questions, please reach out.

Sincerely,

Heather Tramp

Executive Director

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