We are continually updating this summary as information changes. Updated 11/23/20
By now, many of you have become aware that Oregon OSHA has adopted a temporary rule going into effect on November 16, 2020 to address COVID-19. SDAO staff and our member committee have been deeply engaged in the discussions surrounding the creation of this rule and the mandatory appendices. While there are still questions from many of you about whether this rule is necessary, we find ourselves past that decision point.
Following is a summary of the general section of this rule. Healthcare, law enforcement, 911 centers, and fire/EMS districts will have additional rules and appendices that apply and must spend time to determine level of compliance.
All districts need to become familiar with the rule and the mandatory appendices that affect the district’s work. A simple example is the appendix on restaurants and bars. While your district may not have a restaurant, you will want to determine if that appendix applies if you serve food. It is possible for a district to have multiple appendices to comply with. Some areas in the rules and appendices will have opportunities for your district to be reimbursed for costs incurred until December 30, 2020 through the CARES Act funds or FEMA PA funds. These items are identified by a “[CA]” in the summary of the below. Please remember that this summary is not a complete restatement of the rules and you need to be familiar with this new standard.
- First, this rule applies to all workplaces, both indoors and outdoors. This means that if you have staff working in any location, these rules apply. Many of our districts have both fixed locations with buildings and locations without buildings and would even include trails and canals. This is important because portions of the rule require your district to enforce these rules on the individuals utilizing space you control. This is a change from all other Oregon OSHA rules where only subject workers are under the agency’s jurisdiction.
- Your district needs to become familiar with the Definitions section of the rules and those definitions that would specifically affect your district activities. If there is not a definition written in the rule, you should use the common dictionary definition.
- You are required to ensure that 6-feet of distance is maintained between individuals either through workplace design and layout or through the planning of workplace activities. This can be accomplished through physical spacing of individuals or the installation of solid, cleanable barriers that would cause the distance of travel for virus particles to be greater than 6-feet. The planning of workplace activities will be harder to control, but it is possible that you could schedule the use of areas by individuals in your district and thereby creating a physical distance between people. The latter would need to be carefully documented and supervised to make certain there was no overlap. I do not recommend this approach unless necessary. [CA]
- Updated: The use of masks, face coverings, or face shields is mandatory indoors at all times unless you are alone and inside a private workspace such as an office with a door. They are also to be worn outdoors any time you cannot “consistently assure” that the 6-feet of physical distance is maintained between all individuals. Said another way, if you can guarantee that 6-feet will be maintained between people, you can choose to not use face coverings or face shields outdoors. Prior to the adoption of this rule, there were multiple discussions about the safe duration an individual is exposed to others. This duration discussion is not in the OSHA rule and would not appear to be a defense. Please keep in mind this particular use of face covers and face shields does not exempt a district from the requirements to use proper PPE based on the hazards identified in the required PPE hazard assessment. [CA] This rule also requires your district to “ensure that all individuals (including employees, part-time workers, temporary laborers, customers, vendors, patrons, contractors, etc.) at the workplace or other premises subject to the employer’s control wear a mask, face covering, or face shield as source control in accordance with the requirements of the Oregon Health Authority’s Statewide Mask, Face Covering, Face Shield Guidance.” Your district must ensure that your “code of conduct” policies allow you to enforce these rules. It would be in your best interest to engage in a discussion with your district’s local attorney to ensure your supervisory staff understands how to accomplish this.
- Updated: Face coverings or face shields are required to be worn inside a vehicle. Commercial and emergency response drivers can adjust or remove their masks if the mask becomes a hazard or visual impairment. [CA]
- Surfaces in your district (including surfaces of vehicles) are required to be cleaned and disinfected regularly and the district must provide the cleaners to do this. Cleaning of these common areas should occur once every 8 hours when staff is present for districts whose facilities are occupied for more than 12 hours. Healthcare settings have their own specialized cleaning requirements. It may be more advantageous for staff to clean their own areas in this instance, however, don’t neglect the common areas. This may need to be increased based on the area’s frequency of use or shared areas and objects. These need to be cleaned and disinfected more often. There is no requirement for specialized cleaning unless the situation warrants it; your district staff can do this cleaning with approved cleaners. [CA]
- OSHA created a poster that is required to be posted in locations where your staff can see them.
- Physical distancing of staff and patrons must be monitored by a “Social Distancing Monitor”. I would suggest that a portion of your safety committee may be a good group for this. They are not responsible for enforcement of the policies. That should be done by the supervisory staff at your district no different than any other policy or code of conduct enforcement.
- Ventilation using your HVAC system is required at your district any time staff or patrons are inside a facility. Healthcare situations will require specialized ventilation procedures in accordance with your infection control plan and applicable ASHRAE or other standards. For other districts not performing close personal care of individuals, your HVAC system must be on when the building is occupied, filters changed regularly according to manufacturer’s specifications, and the intake ports must be free from debris to allow the maximum amount of fresh air into the system. [CA]
- All districts must complete an exposure assessment in writing. Oregon OSHA has provided a template document for this task. Your district must assess those items with feedback from both labor and management. If you have more than 10 staff and volunteers at your district, this document must be in writing and must contain the answers to each area including the name, job title, and contact information of the person who completed this assessment, the date the assessment is completed, and what employee job classifications were evaluated.
- If your district has more than 10 staff and volunteers you must create a written infection control plan for COVID-19. Use the exposure assessment document (template) to assist you with writing this plan. Many of you may already have an infection control plan or program. I would encourage you to incorporate the COVID-19 requirements in that plan instead of creating a new program. The plan must include discussions about: A list of all job tasks or worker assignments that require the use of PPE to combat COVID-19. Your procurement plans for how your district will attempt to ensure an adequate supply of protective equipment related to COVID-19. A list and description of your district’s specific hazard control measures related to the protection of individuals from COVID-19. A discussion of your face covering, face shield, or face mask requirements and the methods that the district will use to inform everyone entering the workplace about those requirements. The procedures that your district will use to communicate with individuals who may have had exposures to COVID-19. How your district will provide initial training related to the hazards of COVID-19.
- Your district must provide training and information to all staff members in a manner and language that they understand. There are topics that must be discussed such as physical distancing, face coverings and face shields, sanitation requirements, COVID-19 symptoms, reporting requirements, etc. Be sure to review the rule and appendices to ensure you are covering what is needed. SafePersonnel and HR Answers have trainings that can assist you with parts of the requirements.
- Districts are required to establish a notification process to tell staff that they may have had a workplace contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. Your district should work with an HR professional to create a process to ensure privacy for the individual who tested positive while allowing notification of other staff of the exposure. OSHA has provided a document to assist with the notification process.
- When an employee has been exposed to COVID-19 and has a recommendation for isolation or quarantine from a medical provider or public health official your district must reassign the staff member to duties that do not involve person-to-person contact, if possible. This reassignment is required to continue until the need no longer exists based on guidance from the employee’s medical provider or a public health official. This may be based on negative testing or a symptom-free timeframe provided by a medical professional.
If your district is involved with direct patient care or emergency first responder care of individuals, you will need to follow the additional requirements for workplaces at exceptional risk. These rules are specific to districts that provide any of the following:
- Direct patient care or decontamination of surfaces in a healthcare setting
- Aerosol generating healthcare or postmortem procedures \
- Emergency response
- Handling human remains or tissues that may be or are contaminated with COVID-19
The requirements for these types of districts include the creation or modification of an infection control plan and training on that plan. This plan must be facility specific. Your district may copy the information for each facility if the facilities are “substantially similar” to one another. The easiest example would be fire stations. In these instances, you do not have to create a separate plan for each station. This plan must be communicated with staff and you must provide the opportunity for feedback and questions with an individual who has the requisite knowledge to answer questions about COVID-19. There is also a requirement for enhanced ventilation for areas where procedures will be done. [CA] Healthcare providers should utilize all the currently available information and consensus standards to make decisions about protection of staff and patients. The Office of the State Fire Marshal is currently updating guidance for the fire and EMS service as well. SDAO staff and member districts are involved in the crafting of this guidance.
For more information and a link to the rules, appendices, posters, and other documents go to the Oregon OSHA Infectious Disease Advisory Committee webpage. You may also contact SDAO Risk Management for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-285-5461.