On Nov. 16, a temporary Oregon OSHA rule took effect—to protect workers from COVID-19 in all workplaces. The rule will remain in effect until at least May 4, 2021. But it’s not clear how many employers or workers know about it. It’s like the proverbial tree falling in the forest: If OSHA announces a rule and no one hears about it, does it protect workers?
OSHA has no way to let Oregon’s roughly 110,000 employers and 1.8 million workers know about the new rule except media reports. SAIF, Oregon’s biggest workers’ comp insurer, emailed all its employer customers about the rule, but an OSHA spokesperson couldn’t say whether other insurers had done so.
COVID-19 has killed 247,000 Americans, and it’s clear a major upsurge is under way, making COVID-19 a potential on-the-job hazard. As of Nov. 12, the Oregon Health Authority was reporting active outbreaks of at least 5 confirmed cases at 90 Oregon workplaces, as well as active outbreaks with at least three confirmed cases at 75 assisted living centers.
BECOME A COVID STEWARD
Here’s how you can keep yourself, your co-workers and family members safe:
1 Know the rules (below).
2 If your employer isn’t following the rules, you —or your union steward or staff rep— should let them know about the rules.
3 If they still don’t follow the rules, file a complaint online at osha.oregon.gov/workers or by calling 1-800-922-2689. You can ask that your identity be kept confidential. Employer retaliation for making an OSHA complaint is illegal.
It’s Oregon law now: Your employer must keep you safe
- Physical distancing Whenever feasible, workers must be separated from one another and other individuals by at least 6 feet.
- Face covering Indoors (or outdoors when workers must be within 6 feet) employers must provide face coverings to all workers and ensure they use them.
- Risk assessment With participation from employees, employers must gauge potential exposure and address how to minimize it. See the form here.
- Notification Workers should let employers know if they have a cough, shortness of breath, fever, etc., and employers must notify workers within 24 hours if they learn of a workplace COVID-19 exposure.
- Post the COVID-19 Hazards poster in the workplace Download the poster in English here or Spanish here.