Since March 23, 2020, a series of Executive Orders have come forth from the Oregon Governor’s Office intended to reduce exposures to the Coronavirus which, in some cases, meant the temporary closing of certain businesses. As we entered into re-opening phases, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) began releasing additional, mandatory, directives for social distancing, occupant capacity reductions, increased sanitation procedures and use of face coverings for very specific business types, of which construction was NOT one.
Oregon OSHA was identified as the enforcing agency for compliance with Executive Orders and OHA directives and began drafting their own COVID-19 emergency rule which would apply to all workplaces in Oregon, including construction. This rule was to be adopted on 10/21/20 and, as written, would provide employers flexibility to identify which Coronavirus exposure control procedures would best fit their work environments.
On 10/19/20, OHA released additional requirements for wearing of face masks, face coverings or face shields applicable for nearly every business type in Oregon. These new requirements are effective immediately and are more stringent than what OR-OSHA’s draft emergency rule language specified. So, what does this all really mean?
1 – With very few exceptions, face coverings and face masks are now required at all times when working inside of a building, or on a construction site, either open to the public or private, and outside when closer than 6 feet of another person.
From the OHA directive:
- Masks, face coverings or face shields are required at all times for employees, contractors and volunteers in public and private workplaces, including hallways, bathrooms, classrooms, elevators, lobbies, break rooms, meeting rooms and other common and shared spaces, unless employees, contractors or volunteers are at a private, individual workspace not shared with other people.
2 – Face coverings and face masks good – face shields bad / not recommended:
- Use of a face shield alone should only be done on very limited basis. Wearing a face shield alone without a mask or face covering increases the potential for transmission of viruses to those in the same room as the individual without the mask or face covering.
3 – Manage who comes into your place of business and enforce mask requirements:
- Require employees, contractors, volunteers, students, customers and visitors to wear a mask, face covering or face shield, except as follows:
- Employees, contractors and volunteers: Masks, face coverings or face shields are strongly recommended in all indoor work spaces, but not required when at or in a location where the employee, contractor or volunteer does not have a job that requires interacting with the public or with other employees, such as a large warehouse and at least six (6) feet of distance can be maintained between other people. When six (6) feet of distance cannot be maintained, such as in a restroom or break room, masks, face coverings or face shields are required.
4 – Provide masks and post signs:
- Provide masks, face coverings or face shields for employees.
- Post clear signs about the mask, face covering or face shield requirements.
OR-OSHA is in the process of revising their emergency rule to reflect these new requirements and have indicated an adoption as early as 11/02/20. There are a number of additional requirements within this rule that I will report on once it is finalized. Contact me if you have any questions.