Proposal addresses COVID-19 risks in employer-provided housing
Oregon OSHA is proposing to extend protective measures against COVID-19 for workers who rely on housing provided by employers, including as part of farming operations. The risk-reducing measures, which include new options and updates, cover everything from physical distancing and ventilation to face coverings and sanitation.
The proposed permanent rule will receive three virtual public hearings later this month and a comment period through April 16. Oregon OSHA expects to repeal the rule once it is no longer needed to address the coronavirus pandemic in the context of labor housing.
“While there is good news on the horizon, the public health challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic remain a significant concern in Oregon. In the labor housing environment, addressing an airborne disease poses unique challenges,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “We believe this proposed rule addresses those challenges by protecting vulnerable workers — especially those who spend both their work and off-work hours at the employer’s location. But it also strikes a balance based on the current economic realities.”
The proposed rule would replace the current labor-housing requirements established through Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order, issued in October 2020. That order lasts through April 30. It effectively maintained COVID-19 safety measures that Oregon OSHA adopted on a temporary basis in April 2020, which otherwise expired Oct. 24, 2020.
While largely similar to the previous requirements, the proposed rule includes new options and updates.
The proposed requirements include the areas of ventilation; masks, face coverings and face shields; physical distancing; and cleaning and sanitation.
Similar to previous requirements, the proposed rule also spells out steps to take when there are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The rule’s development included input from advisory committees. Also, the division received comments on a petition that was filed in response to the temporary requirements extended by the governor’s executive order.
Oregon OSHA encourages a careful reading of the proposed rule regarding COVID-19 and labor housing. Virtual public hearings will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 25; 10 a.m. on Friday, March 26; and 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 30. Details on how to sign up for the hearings — as well as other options for commenting on the proposed rule — are now available online at https://tinyurl.com/5amvptwe. The comment period will close Friday, April 16.
Meanwhile, the division continues to take public comments on its proposed permanent rule — https://tinyurl.com/43lb2wgz — extending protections against COVID-19 in all workplaces. Learn more about the division’s workplace guidance and resources related to COVID-19 at https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/re/covid-19.aspx