OSHA Proposes Permanent Rules on COVID-19 in all Workplaces

Division accepting comments through April 2 on replacement of temporary rule

Salem, OR — Seeking to extend protections for workers against the coronavirus disease, Oregon OSHA is proposing a permanent rule that largely maintains – with some improvements – the risk-reducing measures required by the current temporary emergency rule. It would replace the temporary rule, which expires on May 4.

The proposed permanent rule will receive virtual public hearings later this month and in early March. Although the rule must be adopted as a permanent rule because the law does not allow a temporary rule to be extended, Oregon OSHA expects to repeal the permanent rule once it is no longer needed to address the coronavirus pandemic.

“The public health emergency triggered by COVID-19 remains a significant concern in Oregon – as we know, we have not yet defeated this disease and we clearly will not have done so by the time the temporary rule expires. As a result, it is critically important that we carry forward measures that we know are effective at combating the spread of this disease and reducing risks in the workplace,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Failure to do so will undoubtedly leave workers far less protected and leave employers with far less clarity and certainty in terms of what is expected of them.”

As with the temporary rule, which took effect Nov. 16, 2020, the proposed permanent rule maintains such requirements as physical distancing; use of face coverings; regular sanitation; employee notification and training; maximization and maintenance of existing ventilation systems; and formal exposure risk assessment and infection control planning. The proposed permanent rule would allow employers to rely upon the risk assessments, infection control plans, and infection control training already completed.

However, the permanent rule would add measures and strengthen provisions in certain areas. Those proposed changes include:

  • Requiring employers to consider alternatives to transporting multiple people in a single vehicle, although such transportation would not be prohibited.
  • Slightly modifying the ventilation measures so that employers with more than 10 employees – and that have existing ventilation systems – must certify in writing that they are running their systems in line with current requirements. The proposed rule does not require the purchase or installation of new ventilation systems.
  • Requiring employers to provide written notification to employees of their rights to return to work when employees must quarantine.
  • Requiring employers to cooperate with public health authorities that ask to arrange for vaccination in the workplace. This proposed requirement is similar to the temporary rule’s provision mandating cooperation with public health officials if COVID-19 testing in the workplace is necessary.
  • Requiring health care employers to provide respirators to employees working with known or suspected COVID-19-positive patients unless they demonstrate there is a genuine shortage that they are working to resolve.

The proposed permanent rule also strengthens the language discouraging the use of face shields, which have been shown to be less effective than masks or facial coverings although such devices would remain an option for source control.

The proposed permanent rule was developed in consultation with two rulemaking advisory committees assembled for the purpose. It largely reflects the provisions of the current temporary rule, which itself was based to a large extent on the guidance produced by the Oregon Health Authority and enforced in the workplace by Oregon OSHA. The temporary rule was developed following an extensive stakeholder and public comment process last summer, which is not normally the case when temporary rules are developed.

Oregon OSHA encourages a careful reading of the proposed permanent rule. Virtual public hearings will be held at 10 a.m. on Feb. 23 and Feb. 26, and at 5 p.m. on March 3 and March 4. Details on how to sign up for the hearings – as well as other options for commenting on the proposed rule – are now available. The comment period will close on April 2.

Learn more about the division’s workplace guidance and resources related to COVID-19.


About Oregon OSHA:

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.


Date: 2021-03-18 09:06

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  1. OSHA is Comrade Brown’s police force (so she won’t have to touch this issue with her own fingers. We need to STAND UP and SAY NO to her and her police force. Arkansas just opened their state to NO MASKS and there are many others. I think Comrade Brown still looking for a seat in the Biden Administration.

    Everything she is doing is ILLEGAL and SHE NEEDS TO BE STOPPED!!!!!!!!!!

  2. In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, “there is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.” Making this rule permanent would be as permanent as the Pyramids of Giza, and considering the actual infection and mortality rates of COVID-19, and the fact that several vaccines are already in mass distribution, there is no justification for this. This is just nailing the barn door shut after it burned down, and makes Oregon look like a police state to the rest of the country. Just STOP.

  3. This Gov Brown who is acting like a Nazi Dictator is not following the science, here are some facts.

    Here are the peer reviewed studies, science matters follow the facts!!

    A major news organization in California has been questioning and reporting on the lack of mask-science since Spring of 2020 – over a year ago. They have talked with nearly 20 Epidemiologists, Virologists, Immunologists, various physicians, public health MDs, and medical experts.
    Here is one article:
    “According to immunologists and epidemiologists the paper has interviewed and reported on these items; ordering people indoors, schools closed, mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing is the opposite of what should be done for the health and well-being of society. Herd immunity is supposed to be the real health goal, while protecting those most vulnerable – in the case of coronavirus, is the elderly and infirmed confined to nursing homes.”
    The Governor issued an Executive Order and had his Public Health Department issue a new directive Thursday, which said this:
    “Over the last four months, we have learned a lot about COVID-19 transmission, most notably that people who are infected but are asymptomatic or presymptomatic play an important part in community spread. The use of face coverings by everyone can limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing, and/or sneezing, as well as reinforce physical distancing.”
    What once was a directive to flatten the curve has morphed in to “people who are infected but are asymptomatic or presymptomatic play an important part in community spread.”

    In another article reported Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at University of California, Los Angeles said:
    “I don’t think there’s any evidence that wearing a surgical mask has any benefit to protect someone in general from exposure, or from being infected. We usually recommend people who are ill wear surgical masks to prevent transmission [to others]… it may be kind of an awareness tool, but in terms of its direct benefits, there’s no data,” Dr. Klausner added.

    Dr. Brosseau and and Dr. Sietsema, both national experts on respiratory protection and infectious diseases at University of Illinois at Chicago, said, “We do not recommend requiring the general public who do not have symptoms of COVID-19-like illness to routinely wear cloth or surgical masks because, There is no scientific evidence they are effective in reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”

    “The Center for Disease Control did a pool analysis of 10 RCTs that examined the impact of face masks on reducing influenza infections within a community,” The CA newspaper reported in “Why I’m Not Wearing a Mask.” “They concluded that these studies “found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.” These studies covered a wide range of environmental settings from University dorms to households, but the results were the same across them all.”
    “’There is limited evidence for their [masks] effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission,’ they found. This applied to masks ‘worn by the infected person for source control OR when worn by uninfected persons.’ They unambiguously concluded that there was ‘no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.’”

    Also noteworthy, those fully vaccinated had double the level of antibodies compared to those who caught the virus naturally, sending the signal to researchers that vaccines are key to protecting the population.

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