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Oregon OSHA proposes ‘permanent’ rule addressing COVID-19 in all workplaces

Agency says it expects to repeal the rule, once no longer needed

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Seeking to extend protections for workers against COVID-19, Oregon OSHA said Monday it is proposing a permanent rule that largely maintains – with some improvements – the risk-reducing workforce measures required by the current temporary emergency rule.

It would replace the temporary rule that is set to expire 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 said 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," said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA.

"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,” Wood said. “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 last Nov. 16, 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, OSHA said.

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:


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

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to  

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  1. “we have not yet defeated this disease” – Since the current mutations of the virus have surfaced we pretty much know we will not defeat it, we need to learn to live with it, as in immunity.

  2. Just get the vaccines out and into our arms. The last thing we need now is more coronavirus regulations. If people haven’t figured it out now, a permanent rule won’t help. And no one is enforcing things with any teeth to it anyway.

  3. Time to move your business out of this state if you want to survive. Other states seem to be open for business. I guess Oregon doesn’t need businesses or jobs for that matter.

  4. A rule, not a LAW folks! OSHA is running rampant as if they have all this power because our lovely Governor imposed mandates, not LAWS. The only people that can enforce such rules and mandates are the local law enforcement, which they won’t because these are NOT laws. Wake up people and read the ****** OR Constitution. Fair and equal accommodation is a LAW (ORS 659a.403) and all these businesses and even OSHA are unfortunately ignoring another law (ORS 659a.006). This Virus has a survival rate of over 99% percent (via CDC’s own numbers) and yet people continue to live in fear and allow our lovely politicians to dictate how we live our lives. WAKE the **** UP!!!

  5. And the Biden warriors and Kate guard condemned me when I said they’ll never let this noew taken power go. And lookie here. rules are soon to be “permanent.”

  6. Oregon is 1 of 14 states that has adopted state OSHA rules. This agency is not the health dept. Anytime an “official” can control those they feel are below them then they will. Rescind the “permanent” rule when the danger has passed. Right.
    We are all being bombarded 24/7 by government agencies to wash our hands.I think we need more “experts” telling us what to do. “ex” is a has been and “spurt” is a drip under pressure.

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