Oregon OSHA to Enforce Statewide Face Coverings Rule

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Starting July 1, 2020, all Oregonians over age 12 are required to wear a face covering in public indoor spaces and certain businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state. According to Governor Kate Brown, the state’s first approach has been to educate and inform businesses and the public of the requirement.

However, Governor Brown stated that she is stepping up enforcement for face coverings, social distancing, and gathering size limits for businesses statewide led by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (commonly known as Oregon OSHA) and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The agencies reportedly performed spot checks and inspections over the holiday weekend.

Businesses can be cited for failing to enforce the face-covering mandate with customers, employees, and visitors. Violators can be subject to fines, citations or, in some cases, closures. Washington and Clackamas counties are circulating e-mail addresses for anyone to report businesses that are not complying with the requirement while Multnomah County is referring people directly to Oregon OSHA.

Oregon businesses should review their COVID-19 plans to make sure they adequately enforce face-covering requirements. Remember, complaints that a business is not following the rules can be submitted by employees or members of the public. Oregon OSHA has issued an advisory memo outlining best practices for businesses to enforce the statewide face-covering mandate.

Oregon businesses should also comply with all other requirements applicable to their business to protect against the spread of COVID-19, including social-distancing, face-covering, and PPE requirements. The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon OSHA provide more information and resources on the requirements that may apply to your business.

Businesses failing to enforce the face-covering requirement could be cited by a masked Oregon OSHA inspector. Oregon OSHA citations normally require prompt corrective action under the threat of additional daily penalties for non-compliance. Since early March, Oregon OSHA has received approximately 5,500 complaints related to workplace COVID-19 protections. The agency has performed 42 COVID-19 workplace inspections and issued citations in half of those inspections.

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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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