On August 13, 2021, Oregon OSHA updated its workplace COVID-19 safety rules to be consistent with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA)’s general statewide emergency temporary rule requiring masks to be worn indoors in nearly all business settings as of August 13, 2021. (See our recent Alert on OHA’s mask mandate.) Employers must require employees, contractors, and volunteers to wear a mask and must post signs at every entrance to the indoor space that face coverings are required. Oregon OSHA’s rule doesn’t do much to clarify how OHA’s rule applies in the workplace, except to specify that employers must provide free masks, face coverings, or face shields for employees. Oregon OSHA provides a little more guidance to employers on enforcing facial coverings for customers, clients, and other guests. The OHA rules require employers to make “reasonable efforts” to obtain these individuals’ compliance. Oregon OSHA says it will consider an employer to be making a reasonable effort if it provides an audible reminder to these individuals and doesn’t actively undercut the rule’s requirements.
Tips: Unfortunately, Oregon OSHA hasn’t clarified whether indoor workers may dispense with masks if they’re sufficiently separated. In the absence of such guidance, Vigilant generally recommends requiring masks for all indoor workers who aren’t working alone in a room that’s fully enclosed, floor to ceiling. In break areas where employees have to remove their masks to eat, Vigilant recommends requiring workers to keep at least 6 feet apart. Even though Oregon OSHA no longer imposes physical distancing requirements, keeping workers apart while they’re not wearing masks is a sensible precaution. If you have questions about mask protocols, contact your Vigilant safety professional.