Oregon OSHA Announces Stance on Federal Vaccine-or-Test Standard

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
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Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

On January 13, 2022, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) announced that because the Supreme Court of the United States has stayed the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), it “will not move forward with adopting the same or similar standard in Oregon.”

Oregon operates an OSHA-approved state plan that applies to both public and private employers. Accordingly, Oregon employers are subject to the state OSHA’s standards rather than the federal OSHA standards and were awaiting Oregon OSHA’s release of its own ETS.

Although Oregon OSHA will no longer implement a vaccine-or-test standard, the COVID-19 workplace rule remains in effect. The protections under that rule include infection control planning, exposure risk assessments, infection notification protocols, and sanitation. Oregon employers are also required to follow the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) masking requirements for indoor spaces, which provides that individuals, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask, face covering, or face shield when in an indoor space unless the individual is in a private individual workspace or is actively eating or drinking. A private individual workspace means “an indoor space within a public or private workplace used for work by one individual at a time that is enclosed on all sides with walls from floor to ceiling and with a closed door.” The rule allows for other limited exceptions to the indoor mask requirement.

Employers may want to revisit their COVID-19 policies and workplace practices to consider whether they are complying with Oregon OSHA’s COVID-19 workplace rule and OHA’s indoor masking requirements. Employers may also want to keep in mind that employees are protected from discrimination or retaliation for opposing any practice forbidden under the Oregon Safe Employment Act, including Oregon OSHA’s COVID-19 workplace rule.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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