Proposed Permanent OR-OSHA Rules

  • Share:
March 24, 2021
OSHA Direstor's Response to a Question from Re. Mark Owens-

Representative Owens,
 
Thank you for the conversation this morning. I’m happy to provide whatever information I can to help you address these issues being raised by your constituents.
 
As we discussed, some of the material that is circulating is simply inaccurate (there is nothing in the proposed Oregon OSHA rule that requires any individual to be vaccinated, for example). And the bulk of the issues being raised are already included in the temporary rule (our Rulemaking Advisory Committee encouraged us to make minimal changes, and as a result we did not make changes to the appendices, but I think it is likely that a number of them will be revised to more directly focus on worker exposure as part of the final rule; Appendix A-13, which addresses K-12 education, is particularly likely to undergo significant revisions).
 
With regard the “permanent” nature of the rule, as we have discussed before the rule needs to go through permanent rulemaking. We considered including a sunset date, describing specific criteria that would trigger automatic repeal, or tying it to the Governor’s emergency declaration but – for the proposal, at least, we did not try to predict an exact date, we did not believe it was appropriate to identify specific criteria given the range of issues that needed to be addressed (and the fact that it might be appropriate to repeal different provisions of the rule at different times), and we wanted to continue to avoid tying the rulemaking (which we are adopting using the normal process and our existing authority) to the emergency declaration. We are certainly open to comments on that issue, and particularly if someone has ideas about how the repeal should be triggered that they want to suggest. How to phase out the rule – and how best to build that expectation into the rule itself -- is very much an open issue in the proposal. You can certainly encourage people to provide comments on that score.
 
The rule does, however, include the following note near the very beginning of the text: “Note: Although the rule must be adopted as a permanent rule, its purpose is to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oregon OSHA intends to repeal the rule when it is no longer necessary to address that pandemic. Because it is not possible to assign a specific time for that decision, Oregon OSHA will consult with the Oregon OSHA Partnership Committee, the Oregon Health Authority, and other stakeholders as circumstances change to determine when all or part of the rule can be appropriately repealed.” Oregon OSHA will not leave the rule in place once the need to address the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.
 
As I mentioned, the rule largely tracks with the existing temporary rule that took effect last November (and which itself is based in large measure on existing OHA requirements as they related to various workplaces). We have a document on the web that briefly compares the existing rule and the proposal, which you can find at https://osha.oregon.gov/OSHARules/proposed/2021/comparison-temp-permanent-covid19.pdf.
We also put together a summary to address some of the confusing, inaccurate, and incomplete information begin circulated. I have pasted a copy of it into the text below:
There is incomplete and at times inaccurate information circulating about Oregon OSHA’s proposal to extend requirements for employers to protect workers against the risks of COVID-19. We think you should have the facts and access to the actual rule proposal documents:
  • Under state law, the current emergency temporary rule addressing COVID-19 in the workplace – adopted in November 2020 and which expires May 4, 2021 – cannot be extended beyond 180 days.
  • To extend protections for workers against the coronavirus disease – which remains a significant concern in Oregon – Oregon OSHA must propose a permanent rule that replaces the temporary one.
  • As specifically indicated in the rulemaking proposal, Oregon OSHA expects to repeal the permanent rule once it is no longer needed to address the pandemic in the workplace.
  • The worker protections we seek to extend against COVID-19 are rooted in measures proven to be effective in our battle against the spread of this disease, including physical distancing, use of face coverings, sanitation, and employee information and training.
  • We encourage you to read the actual rule proposal documents. Here they are: https://osha.oregon.gov/OSHARules/proposed/2021/ltr-proposed-covid19-public-health-emergency.pdf
  • Please take a look, too, at the following summary comparing the proposed rule to the existing temporary rule: https://osha.oregon.gov/OSHARules/proposed/2021/comparison-temp-permanent-covid19.pdf
  • We are currently taking public comments on our rule proposal. The feedback is essential to us as we move forward with this process. You can provide written comments to tech.web@oregon.gov by April 2, and they will be considered as part of the record.
  • We have more facts, resources, and information about COVID-19 and the workplace here: https://osha.oregon.gov/covid19/Pages/default.aspx
Let me know if there is anything further I can help you with.
Michael
Michael Wood, Administrator, Oregon OSHA
Department of Consumer & Business Services
503-947-7400 (desk)
971-707-0996 (mobile or text)

  Submit comments by April 2nd
 
Proposed Permanent OR-OSHA Rules
Unfairly Burden Businesses
 
  SUBMIT COMMENTS BY APRIL 2ND
 
Local businesses have borne the brunt of the state’s response to the
COVID-19 pandemic. Employers have been tasked with enforcing the Governor’s mask mandate, enforcing the 6-foot social distancing requirements, among countless other mandates.
Now, OR-OSHA is considering the adoption of permanent COVID-19 Workplace Rule, that layer new regulations on local employers nearly 14-months into the pandemic!
OR-OSHA should be providing workers and local businesses with certainty that their efforts to vaccinate and social distance are acknowledged, not creating new mandates that add costs as we work to reopen the economy. 
Please Follow this link to draft your letter!
-OR-OSHA Permanent Rule OSCC Talking Points

OR-OSHA needs to hear from concerned employers and workers about the proposed scope COVID-19 workplace rules. Urge OR-OSHA to reset their approach to this pandemic!
 
How to Submit Written Comments
                * Provide your letter of comment on your Chamber letterhead. Please provide specific, local examples where possible. You can download talking points here;
                     -Letterhead can be provided upon request.
                * Send your comments to OR OSHA by April 2nd.
Send letters to:
Administrator Michael Wood via email tech.web@oregon.gov.
 
Comments can also be mailed to:
Department of Consumer and Business Services/Oregon
OSHA PO BOX 14480
Salem, OR 97309
 
  Please consider copying your State Senator and Representative so they are aware that the OR-OSHA rules need changes before they are adopted.
                * A VoterVoice Alert will also be sent out tomorrow.
Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) | 991 Liberty Street SE, Salem, OR 97302