FAQ: Oregon’s COVID-19 Response and the Construction Industry
Updated: Apr 24, 2020
The State of Oregon issued a stay-at-home order on March 23, 2020, which is in place until modified or terminated by the state government. Construction operations are allowed to continue in Oregon, though they must comply with social distancing policies. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the effect of Oregon’s stay-at-home order on the construction industry in Oregon.
(Last Updated on April 23, 2020)
Background on Governor Brown’s Order.
Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-12 (“Stay-at-Home Order”) mandates the closure of certain specified businesses, including retail shops, gyms, and others specified in the Stay-at-Home Order. This is different than states such as Washington and California, where the governors broadly requested the closure of businesses and then provided exemptions for certain industries. Businesses that are not required to close and that cannot implement telework and work-from-home policies are required to implement social distancing policies in the workplace.
Is Construction Work Permitted to Continue in Oregon?
Yes, construction work is permitted under Oregon’s Stay-at-Home Order as most construction work cannot be done via work-from-home or telework. Any construction-related work that can be performed via work-from-home or telework should be done through those methods. All construction work in Oregon is allowed to continue and must implement and follow appropriate social distancing policies.
What Social Distancing Policies Should You Implement for Construction Work?
The Stay-at-Home Order requires construction work to implement social distancing policies. On March 25, the State of Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the “Job Health, Safety Resources for Oregon Contractors” guidance (“Contractors Guidance”), providing general advice on how to maintain safe construction work sites.
Sick workers must stay home, and sick employees with acute respiratory issues must not come to work until they are free of symptoms for at least 72 hours;
Workers should increase personal space to at least six feet where possible. Limit meetings when possible and consider staggering break and lunch shifts;
Gloves and eye protection should be worn at all times, and face masks should be used when necessary;
All construction sites should have hand-washing facilities available, and hand sanitizer is acceptable in the interim between the availability of hand-washing facilities;
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces within the workplace multiple times each day. Workers performing cleaning must be issued proper personal protective equipment;
Workers entering occupied buildings and homes should consider practices such as requiring the customer to clean and sanitize the work area, ask the customer to keep a distance of at least 10 feet, and requiring payment to be made online, and;
The number of visitors to job sites should be limited, and visitors should be screened regarding their self-quarantine history and symptoms.
These practices, and all other practices listed in the document, are general best practices for a construction site. We recommend that every construction business operating in Oregon review the document and consider how to best follow these practices on each worksite. The Oregon Construction Contractors Board has also summarized the various best practices and available resources for contractors here:
The State of Oregon also recommends that construction workers follow the generalized workplace health standards from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for COVID-19 prevention. These standards have significant overlap with the State of Oregon’s safety recommendations for contractors, but the general best practices also can be helpful in assessing how to keep your construction worksite safe.
What is the Impact of Oregon Joining the Western States Pact and
Announcing a Reopening Plan?
On April 13, Oregon joined with Washington and Oregon to form the Western States Pact, committing all three states to a coordinated approach to reopening the state economies and future methods for controlling COVID-19. Oregon, California, and Washington still each have their own regulatory approaches to combating COVID-19. Each state will still be responsible for its own state-specific plan and timeline for reopening.
On April 14, 2020, Governor Brown announced the State of Oregon’s framework for deciding when and how to modify the Stay-at-Home Order. The prerequisites for ending the statewide shutdown are:
(1) Growth of COVID-19 must begin to slow, and;
(2) There is adequate personal protective equipment available to protect health care workers and first responders.
Once those prerequisites have been met, Oregon will begin to reopen by ramping up COVID-19 testing capacity in every region of Oregon, developing contact tracing systems to track and contain cases, and establishing a quarantine and isolation program for new cases. As such, the Stay-at-Home Order can be expected to stand until progress is made on the prerequisites and the other guiding factors. There is currently no timeline for ending the Stay-at-Home Order in Oregon.
What Resources Should You Monitor for COVID-19 Regulatory Updates in Oregon?
As the response to COVID-19 develops on a daily basis, we recommend a handful of websites for monitoring regulatory updates and information about best practices:
The State of Oregon’s COVID-19 Response page summarizes news and the latest response efforts by the state. (https://oregon-coronavirus-geo.hub.arcgis.com/)
The Oregon Construction Contractors Board summarize workplace information and resources available to contractors. (https://www.oregon.gov/ccb/Pages/COVID-19resources.aspx).
The Oregon Health Authority provides the latest public health information regarding the pandemic. (https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19)
The Associated General Contractors of Oregon – Columbia Chapter (https://www.agc-oregon.org/industry-priorities/covid-safety-health/)
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Trades: (http://www.ibew.org/media-center/Articles/20Daily/2003/200318_COVID-19)
Oregon Home Builders Association: (https://oregonhba.com/covid-19/) (All provide news and analysis of COVID-19’s impact on the construction industry).
Construction Connect offers a helpful state-by-state comparison of how each state’s COVID-19 response affects the construction industry. (https://www.constructconnect.com/covid-19-construction-activity-report).
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides an overview of government financial relief available to certain U.S. businesses. (https://www.uschamber.com/co/small-business-coronavirus).
A variety of federal government resources regarding the COVID-19 response are compiled here: (https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus).
This article is intended to provide you with general information regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on construction work in Oregon. This article is not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this article or if you need legal advice on an issue, please contact Heffernan Law Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.