Oregon Dept. of Consumer & Business Services
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Oregonians get early glimpse of 2021 health insurance rates - 05/20/20

Salem – Oregon consumers can get a first look at requested rates for 2021 individual and small group health insurance plans, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services announced today.

In the individual market, six companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average 3.5 percent decrease to an average 11.1 percent increase, for a weighted average of 2.2 percent. In the small group market, nine companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average 1.1 percent decrease to an average 7.9 percent increase, for a weighted average of 3.9 percent. See the attached chart for the full list of rate change requests.

Moderate rate increase requests, recent health insurance company financial statements, and three insurers looking to offer on-exchange plans statewide, up from one in 2020, reveal that the Oregon health insurance market is stable and able to provide multiple health insurance options for all Oregonians.

“It’s early in the process, but it is encouraging to see more carriers expand their coverage area statewide and another year of modest rate change requests,” said Insurance Commissioner and acting DCBS Director Andrew Stolfi. “The initial data reveals that Oregon’s reinsurance program continues to provide premium relief and stabilization for the market.”

The Oregon Reinsurance Program continues to help stabilize the market and lower rates while threats at the federal level provide continued uncertainty and remain a significant factor for rising premiums. Reinsurance lowered rates by 6 percent for the third straight year. Meanwhile, federal policy changes and multiple court cases continue to instill doubt and add to rate increases.  

Health insurance companies submitted rate requests to the department’s Division of Financial Regulation on May 18. The requested rates are for plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act for small businesses and individuals who buy their own coverage rather than getting it through an employer. The division must review and approve rates before they are charged to policyholders. Over the next two months, the division will analyze the requested rates to ensure they adequately cover Oregonians’ health care costs.

This review will include accounting for recent COVID-19 claims experience and ongoing risks created by the pandemic. It is too early to understand the effect COVID-19 relief efforts will have on health insurance rates, but the state’s rate review process provides the opportunity to gather and analyze more data before final rate decisions are made.

Oregonians will soon be able to compare their health plans and submit comments about the initial rates at oregonhealthrates.com. Public hearing dates will also be posted to the site.

“We look forward to a thorough public review of these filings as we work to establish next year’s health insurance rates,” said Stolfi. “We encourage all Oregonians to review these initial rate requests and provide feedback on their health insurance plans.”

Oregonians are encouraged to comment on rate change requests during the public comment period, which opens later this month and runs through June 30. The public can submit comments at oregonhealthrates.com and during the public rate hearings.

Preliminary decisions are expected to be announced in early July, and final decisions will be made in early August.

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About DCBS: The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov and www.dfr.oregon.gov.

State joins task force to crack down on COVID-19 investment scams - 05/15/20

Salem – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has joined an international enforcement task force organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) to investigate investment fraud during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are proud to join our colleagues in NASAA’s COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force,” said Lou Savage, Division of Financial Regulation administrator. “COVID-19 investment schemes are a significant threat and fraudsters need to know that our division is dedicated to protecting Oregonians from these scams.”

The division is a member of NASAA, the membership organization of state and provincial securities regulators in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The task force consists of securities regulators and was formed to identify and stop potential threats to investors stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. Task force members investigate websites and social media posts that may be promoting fraudulent offerings, investment fraud, and unregistered regulated activities.

A critical component of fighting fraud is investor awareness. To help investors identify common telltale signs of possible investment fraud, the division recommends asking three questions before making a new investment.

1. Is the investment being offered with a guaranteed high return with little or no risk?

All investments carry risk. Anyone who says their investment offer has no risk is lying.

2. Is there a sense of urgency or limited availability surrounding the investment? 

If someone offers you a “can’t miss” investment opportunity and pressures you to invest right now, just walk away.

3. Is the person offering the investment, and the investment itself, properly licensed or registered?

You would not seek an unlicensed doctor or dentist; you should also avoid unregistered investment salespeople and products.

Investors who see or suspect they fell victim to COVID-19 related investment scams can contact the division’s advocacy team at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or visit the division’s financial services page.

Visit the division’s COVID-19 consumer page for more financial services information.

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Sisters High School students win safety video contest: Portland and Salem teams also earn prizes - 05/15/20

(Salem) – Students at Sisters High School won $500 for their first-place video titled “Canteen Catastrophe” in an annual safety video contest that promotes young worker safety and the importance of speaking up.

The winning video, which is in a one-shot-style format, follows a worker – played by Shelby Larson – as she walks through a workplace kitchen noticing hazards, but not speaking up. The video rewinds to the beginning and the worker informs someone about each of the hazards so they can be fixed.

The members of the winning Sisters High School team are:

Jackson Griffin

Shelby Larson

Colton Seymour

Skylar Wilkins

Sydney Wilkins

“We chose this part of workplace safety because most of us have jobs in the food industry and so these are real problems that we encounter every day,” said Sydney Wilkins.

Sisters High School also won a matching amount of prize money.

“We think this message is good for teen workers because if they find themselves in an unsafe work environment and don’t speak up, they can possibly get injured,” said Jackson Griffin.

 

Second- and third-place prizes also were awarded. They are as follows:

Second place ($400)

“Undercover Ross”

Parkrose High School, Portland

Created by:

Kayla Sanders

Ryan Matthews

Tim Vu

Phong Ta

Jacob Dryer

Ryan Vacano

Aida Najaf Abadi Nejad

Brad Frasier

Chance Henry

Sean Binder

Kaley Easton

Ben Muro

Benny Osborn

 

Third place ($300)

“Iceolated”

South Salem High School

Created by:

Dean Holman

Ambrose Walker

Rees Jones

The creators of the top videos were announced during a live streaming event on May 14. Sponsored by the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]), the annual video contest focuses on teen workers, who are twice as likely to be injured on the job, according to federal studies.

The contest is designed to increase awareness about safety for young workers, with the theme of “Speak up. Work safe.” Students were asked to create a video of no more than 90 seconds a teen job safety and health message. The videos were judged on creativity, production value, youth appeal, and the overall safety and health message.

All of the winning videos, as well as the other finalists, are available for viewing at https://youngemployeesafety.org/contest/

The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) organizes the contest. The sponsors are Oregon OSHA, SAIF Corporation, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU, SafeBuild Alliance, Oregon chapters of the American Society of Safety Professionals, Oregon SHARP Alliance, Construction Safety Summit, Hoffman Construction, and the Central Oregon Safety & Health Association.

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit www.osha.oregon.gov.

The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) is a nonprofit dedicated to preventing young worker injuries and fatalities. O[yes] members include safety and health professionals, educators, employers, labor and trade associations, and regulators. For more information, go to http://youngemployeesafety.org/.

Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA cites Albany food processor for violation linked to COVID-19 (Photo) - 05/11/20

(Salem) – Oregon OSHA has cited National Frozen Foods in Albany for failing to implement physical distancing measures to protect workers from the spread of the coronavirus.

The citation, which carries a proposed penalty of $2,000, stems from an inspection launched April 20 in response to multiple complaints about the facility, which produces frozen fruits and vegetables.

“We expect employers to follow the appropriate requirements to protect workers against the spread of this disease,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Continuing to do business as usual at the expense of worker safety is not acceptable.”

Under a state executive order aimed at slowing the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are required to maintain physical distancing policies to keep workers at least six feet apart.

The practice at National Frozen Foods ran counter to those requirements, according to Oregon OSHA’s inspection, which included interviews of employees. The company allowed 18 employees – stationed at frozen packaging lines nine at a time during day and swing shifts – to work at a distance of two feet to four feet from each other.

The company allowed this practice to continue after multiple employees who worked on the packaging lines tested positive for COVID-19.

Oregon OSHA’s inspection centered on the position of employees and related operations involving packaging conveyor lines on the west side of the facility.

The division maintains and enforces rules requiring employers to provide safe and healthy workplaces, including implementing control measures to protect against health hazards. Under Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order – issued to address the public health crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic – Oregon OSHA is tasked with enforcing requirements with respect to employers and potential worker exposures. The division continues to screen complaints, conduct spot checks, and initiate inspections.

In addition to its enforcement activities, the division offers employers a variety of resources addressing COVID-19: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/re/covid-19.aspx

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

 

Attached Media Files: Oregon OSHA logo , DCBS logo
Finalists named in high school safety video contest: Live streaming event May 14 to announce winners - 05/11/20

(Salem) – The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) has chosen six finalists for the annual young worker safety video contest. High school students across the state created videos to boost awareness about workplace safety with the central message “Speak up. Work safe.” O[yes] sponsors the annual video contest to engage teen workers, who are twice as likely to be injured on the job.

The finalists are:

  •  “The Chronicles of Safety Man” – Bend Senior High School
  • “Undercover Ross” – Parkrose High School, Portland
  • “R U High?” – Ridgeview High School, Redmond
  •  “Tired in the Workplace” – Ridgeview High School, Redmond
  • “Canteen Catastrophe” – Sisters High School
  •  “Iceolated” – South Salem High School

O[yes] will hold a live streaming event on Thursday, May 14, to showcase the six finalists and announce the top prize winners. The event starts at 4 p.m. and can be streamed on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OregonYES) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/OregonSafetyHealth).

The top three entries will be awarded cash prizes ($500 for first, $400 for second, and $300 for third) and will earn a matching amount for their school. O[yes] organizes the contest, which is sponsored by Oregon OSHA, SAIF Corporation, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU, SafeBuild Alliance, Oregon chapters of the American Society of Safety Professionals, Oregon SHARP Alliance, Construction Safety Summit, Hoffman Construction, and the Central Oregon Safety & Health Association.

The contest, open to all high school students in Oregon, tasked students with creating a video no more than 90 seconds and based on the concept of speaking up about hazards at work. Participants were encouraged to get creative while emphasizing ways to protect themselves – and their co-workers – from getting hurt on the job. The videos were judged on originality, youth appeal, overall production quality, and effective use of the “Speak up. Work safe” message.

For contest information, go to http://youngemployeesafety.org/contest.

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit www.osha.oregon.gov.

The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) is a nonprofit dedicated to preventing young worker injuries and fatalities. O[yes] members include safety and health professionals, educators, employers, labor and trade associations, and regulators. For more information, go to http://youngemployeesafety.org/.

Construction safety task force shares free online resources to help protect against COVID-19 - 05/11/20

Portland – Seeking to increase job safety awareness and to help protect workers against the COVID-19 pandemic, a joint task force has published free resources for the construction industry. The resources provided by the COVID-19 Joint Construction Safety Task Force include a safety checklist, best practices, and photographs.

They are available online:

Best practices:  http://www.oregonbuildingtrades.com/covid-19-safety-best-practices/

Safety photographs:  http://www.oregonbuildingtrades.com/covid-19-safety-photographs/

From April 15 through May 7, groups of five to seven task force members, assisted by an Oregon OSHA consultant, visited nine job sites in Portland, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Salem, Eugene, Oregon City, and sites in Eastern and Central Oregon to assess job safety practices addressing COVID-19 and to make recommendations for improvements.

The task force is a partnership of union and non-union industry professionals, with support from Oregon OSHA. The group meets twice a week to monitor health information and government guidelines, and to collect data and information. It will continue to coordinate job site visits as long as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order is in place.

“The construction community recognizes the need to work together across all areas of development to protect our workers, the public, and visitors to our job sites,” said Mark Long, CEO of Oregon Home Builders Association. “It is gratifying to be part of a group of industry professionals committed to bending the curve of the COVID virus while contributing to Oregon’s economy.”

“We depend on the skilled pipe-fitters and plumbers working for Charter on our project sites and fab shops,” said Cordell Tietz, president of Charter Mechanical. “It is critical that we have a safe environment for our employees, so they can continue to take care of our customers’ needs. This crisis has presented new challenges to all of us, and it’s been important and rewarding seeing our industry come together to keep people working safely and completing critical projects.”

Task force members:

For general questions about the construction task force, contact Mary Ann Naylor at Oregon Tradeswomen, yAnn@oregontradeswomen.net">MaryAnn@tradeswomen.net

Task force contacts:

Robert Camarillo, executive secretary, Oregon State Building Trades Council: obert@oregonbuildingtrades.com">Robert@oregonbuildingtrades.com

Mike Salsgiver, executive director, Associated General Contractors – Oregon Columbia Chapter: mikes@agc-oregon.org

Mark Long, chief executive officer, Oregon Home Builders Association:
k@oregonhba.com">mark@oregonhba.com

Paul Philpott, political representative, Pacific NW Regional Council of Carpenters:

pphilpott@nwcarpenters.org

Mary Ann Naylor, communications & marketing director, Oregon Tradeswomen: yAnn@oregontradeswomen.net">MaryAnn@oregontradeswomen.net

Aaron Corvin, public information officer, Oregon OSHA:
on.corvin@oregon.gov">Aaron.corvin@oregon.gov

DCBS logo
DCBS logo
Oregon OSHA delays to June 1 enforcement of temporary rule addressing farm operations (Photo) - 05/08/20

(Salem) – Oregon OSHA will delay until June 1 enforcement of a temporary rule to increase protections against the spread of coronavirus in employer-provided housing and in labor-intensive farm operations.

The decision is in response to requests from employers for more time to comply with the rule’s requirements. Those requirements – most of which were originally slated to take effect May 11 – strengthen requirements in three areas: field sanitation, labor housing, and transportation.

Meanwhile, the delay will also allow more time for Oregon OSHA to fully complete educational efforts to help employers understand and meet the rule’s requirements.

The rule, which will remain in effect until no later than Oct. 24, 2020, encompasses multiple provisions.

In field sanitation, for example, it requires employers to appoint one or more social distancing officers to ensure at least six feet of separation during work activities, breaks, and meal periods. The same applies for housing operations to ensure at least six feet of distance between unrelated people.

In transportation, for example, the rule requires at least three feet of social distancing during travel in employer-provided vehicles, as well as facial coverings worn by passengers and by the driver in employer-provided vehicles.

For more information about the rule, visit Oregon OSHA web page about COVID-19: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/re/covid-19.aspx

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.  

 

Attached Media Files: DCBS logo , Oregon OSHA logo
OregonHealthCare.gov offers solution for those who lost health insurance due to COVID-19 - 05/07/20

(Salem) – Job loss due to COVID-19 has also caused many Oregonians to lose their health insurance. The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace can help them find new coverage, often with financial help.

“Losing your job or having your hours reduced doesn’t mean you need to go without health insurance,” said Chiqui Flowers, administrator of the Marketplace, a state-level partner to HealthCare.gov that helps that helps people who don’t have health insurance through work or other programs purchase insurance.

More than 300,000 Oregonians have filed for unemployment insurance since the COVID-19 pandemic struck Oregon. For those who have lost insurance through their job, the path to coverage is available through several programs: Marketplace coverage, Oregon Health Plan, COBRA, state continuation, and Medicare. Navigating the process can be confusing, but the Marketplace has a network of community partners and insurance agents who are trained to help Oregonians figure out which resources they qualify for and how to apply.

“We are here to help Oregonians get the health insurance they need,” said Flowers. “The Marketplace was designed to help with situations exactly like this.”

Those who have recently lost a job or insurance through their employer, have experienced a change in income, or had other major life changes are eligible to sign up for health insurance plans through the Marketplace for a 60-day special enrollment period after a qualifying event such as job loss.

Community partners and insurance agents can help via phone and virtually so Oregonians don’t have to navigate the process alone. There are also tools at OregonHealthCare.gov that allow people to shop for plans using their information to look at the cost of plans and see if they qualify for subsidies.

In many cases, Marketplace plans may be more cost effective than COBRA coverage, but if someone opts to enroll in COBRA, they are not eligible for a special enrollment period for Marketplace coverage.

 

“Our community partners and insurance agents can help you weigh your options and find the solution that is best for you and your family,” said Flowers. “We can make the path to insurance easier in the midst of  difficult time.”

Receiving financial help to make coverage through the Marketplace more affordable is not part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s public charge rule, which can make it more difficult for immigrants to receive citizenship. Anyone can sign up for Marketplace health insurance through OregonHealthCare.gov without fear of affecting their immigration status.

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The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, a part of state government, helps people get health insurance when they do not have job-based coverage, and do not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan or another program. The Marketplace is the state-level partner to HealthCare.gov, and a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov.

 

At a construction site in Aumsville, a worker is on a roof with no fall protection
At a construction site in Aumsville, a worker is on a roof with no fall protection
Portland-area general contractor fined nearly $235K for continued job safety violations (Photo) - 05/07/20

Salem – When it comes to protecting workers from the dangers of construction sites – including fall hazards that can lead to serious injury or death – Colima Construction continues to face serious challenges.

Colima’s apparent inability to follow safety standards is not without consequences: In a series of enforcement actions, Oregon OSHA has fined the Canby-based general contractor nearly $235,000 for violating multiple job safety rules – repeatedly in several instances – at jobsites in Bend, Aumsville, and Tigard.

The citations are the latest against Colima, which has a record of overlooking worksite safety requirements, including breaking fall protection rules addressing similar hazards at least six times since 2017. These repeated violations prompted Oregon OSHA to once again exercise its discretionary authority to steeply increase penalties.    

“It is inexcusable to ignore practical safety standards that have, time and again, proven effective at protecting workers from on-the-job hazards,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “Yet, this employer continues to disregard the need to effectively address those rules, sidestepping its responsibilities and putting lives at needless risk.”

The fines totaling $234,850 stem from three citations the division issued against the company in March and April 2020. The citations resulted from three separate inspections.

They follow two citations – totaling more than $120,000 – that Oregon OSHA issued against the company in September 2019. Those citations were for the company’s failure to meet fall protection requirements at jobsites at a residential development in Eugene.

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

Here is a summary of each of the three enforcement actions against Colima this year:

Citation issued April 29

This inspection of the company’s work to frame exterior walls on the second floor of a residential structure in Bend found five serious violations – two of them repeat offenses:

  • In using a guardrail system as the only type of fall protection for workers, the company failed to ensure the system’s top edge height was between 39 inches and 45 inches above the walking/working surface. Proposed penalty: $910, reflecting increases in the base penalty because of poor faith and negative history.
  • The employer did not ensure the guardrail system – which did not have a wall or parapet at least 21 inches high – included a mid-rail, screen, or similar protective structure. Proposed penalty: $4,450, reflecting increases in the base penalty because of poor faith and negative history.
  • The company failed to ensure that employees walking below the second-floor crew wore hardhats, exposing them to head injuries from objects that could fall, including lumber blocks and nail guns. Proposed penalty: $390.
  • In a repeat violation, the company exposed employees to potential falls of 11 feet without any fall-protection measures, such as personal fall arrest systems. It was a violation of an Oregon OSHA trigger-height rule in construction requiring fall protection where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level.
  • The company exposed employees to the potential of tripping or stepping into a hole – created by an unprotected stairwell – and falling nine feet. It was a repeat violation.

For this citation, Oregon OSHA proposed a total penalty of $87,850. That includes a discretionary $75,000 fine for Colima’s violation of the six-foot trigger-height protection from falls rule. The company has broken the rule at least six times since 2017.

The fine amount also reflects an increase in the base penalty for the other repeat violation – the third time the company has breached the rule against unprotected holes. Also, it includes a 30 percent increase in the base penalties assigned to the other violations, accounting for Colima’s poor faith and negative history.  

Citation issued April 15

This inspection of roofing work on an under-construction house in Aumsville discovered the company exposed at least one worker to a potential 12-foot fall by failing to provide fall protection.

It was another repeat violation of the six-foot trigger-height rules. On a discretionary basis, Oregon OSHA proposed a total penalty of $122,500.

Citation issued March 20

This inspection centered on a multi-story building project in Tigard.

It found the company failed to ensure that the personal fall arrest system being used by a worker – who was standing about eight feet high on elevated joists and the top of framed walls – was correctly rigged to prevent him from falling more than six feet and hitting a lower level.   

For this repeat violation, Oregon OSHA used its discretionary authority to issue a total proposed penalty of $24,500. 

Colima has filed appeals of the April 15 and March 20 citations. The company also appealed the two citations issued in September 2019.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health. Those resources include the division’s A-to-Z topic page about fall protection.  

The division encourages employers to take its Fundamentals of Fall Protection online video training.

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

 

State issues emergency order for health insurance companies - 05/06/20

Salem – The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services issued a new emergency order for health insurance companies during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The order requires health insurance companies to:

  • Provide at least a 60-day grace period to pay any past due premiums
  • Pay claims for any covered services during the first 30 days of the grace period
  • Extend all deadlines for reporting claims and other communications, and provide members with communication options that meet physical distancing standards

“It is encouraging to see the state’s health insurers step up to support both their customers and health care providers during this time,” said Andrew Stolfi, insurance commissioner and DCBS acting director. “Providing grace periods and paying claims will provide peace of mind for Oregonians and help health care providers get paid for these essential services when they need it the most.”

The order enables Oregonians to continue receiving health insurance coverage and have their claims paid. It also ensures health care providers receive payment for the services they are diligently providing their patients as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to disrupt everyone’s daily lives and the state’s ordinary course of business.

The order is in effect through June 3 and can be extended in 30-day increments during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is important to note, this order does not apply to self-insured plans. The state encourages self-insured plans to follow these same guidelines. These are plans in which an employer assumes the financial risk of providing health care benefits to its employees. Oregonians who have a self-insured plan should check with their employer about their coverage options.

If you have questions about your insurance coverage, contact your insurance provider. If you have questions about a health insurance company or agent or need to file a complaint, call the Division of Financial Regulation’s advocacy team at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or visit dfr.oregon.gov.

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About DCBS: The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov. 

About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov and http://dfr.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx.

 

Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA logo
Temporary Oregon rule addresses COVID-19 in employer-provided housing, farm operations (Photo) - 04/28/20

(Salem) – Oregon OSHA has adopted a temporary rule to increase protections for workers against the spread of coronavirus in employer-provided housing and in labor-intensive farm operations.

The rule, which takes effect May 11, 2020,  addresses the COVID-19 emergency in such housing and operations by strengthening requirements in three areas: field sanitation, labor housing, and transportation.

“This temporary rule reflects the need to rapidly address COVID-19 in operations where the nature of the work – and the spaces in which that work occurs – raise particularly daunting challenges,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “At the same time, it accounts for the feasibility issues employers may encounter as they step up to fulfill these new responsibilities.”

The rule, which will remain in effect until no later than Oct. 28, 2020, encompasses multiple provisions.

In field sanitation, for example, it requires employers to appoint one or more social distancing officers to ensure at least six feet of separation during work activities, breaks, and meal periods. The same applies for housing operations to ensure at least six feet of distance between unrelated people.

In transportation, for example, the rule requires at least three feet of social distancing during travel in employer-provided vehicles, as well as facial coverings worn by passengers and by the driver in employer-provided vehicles.

The rule stems from a March 20 request by the Oregon Law Center and Dr. Eva Galvez of Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center to immediately adopt requirements related to such housing and operations. Instead, Oregon OSHA treated the request as a petition for rulemaking and put it on a faster evaluation track than normal. That track included time for public comments, the deadline for which was April 13. Oregon OSHA reviewed more than 120.

As the division moves forward with a temporary rule aimed at reducing worker exposure to COVID-19, it expects to continue discussing broader issues involving agriculture labor housing. Just as it has for more than a year, the division’s Agriculture Labor Housing Committee – encompassing labor, employer, grower, and government representatives – will continue that discussion.

Meanwhile, the temporary rule’s requirements – the effective dates of which are staggered in certain cases – are as follows:

Field sanitation

  • Employers must appoint one or more social distancing officers and implement work practices to ensure at least six feet of separation during work activities, breaks, and meal periods.
  • Effective June 1, 2020, employers must increase toilet availability by decreasing the ratio of both toilet and handwashing facilities in the field from the current one per 20 workers to one per 10 workers. Employers who can demonstrate that market availability prevents immediate compliance must provide as many toilet and handwashing facilities as possible until the ratio is achieved.
  • In addition to the existing requirement that toilet and handwashing facilities be within a quarter mile of workers, toilets must be located at the entrance or exit to the field or in a completely harvested area, whichever is closer.
  • Toilets and handwashing facilities must be sanitized at least three times daily.
  • Field sanitation notice and training requirements are revised to include prevention of COVID-19.

Labor housing

  • In relation to registered agricultural labor housing operations,  additional guidance is provided on registration of temporary housing and the use of existing hotel or motel facilities.
  • Employers must appoint one or more social distancing officers and implement housing operations to ensure at least six feet of separation between unrelated individuals.
  • Effective June 1, 2020, employers must provide additional toilets by reducing the ratio from one toilet for every 15 workers to one toilet for every 10 workers. Employers who can demonstrate that market availability prevents immediate compliance must provide as many toilet facilities as possible until the ratio is achieved.
  •  Use of bunk beds by unrelated individuals is prohibited.
  • Square footage requirements do not change. However,  the separation of beds by at least six feet or by an impermeable barrier is required.
  • Common use toilets and handwashing facilities, and other high contact common use items must be sanitized at least two times daily.  Employers must also  provide appropriate cleaning materials to enable occupants to keep private living areas clean and sanitary.
  • As required under existing Oregon Health Authority rules, COVID-19 must be reported immediately, day or night.
  • In terms of  the isolation of COVID-19 confirmed or suspected cases, employers must follow certain requirements, including ensuring that  food and water is provided to those in isolation.

Transportation

  •  At least three feet of social distancing must be maintained during travel in employer-provided vehicles.
  •  Facial coverings must be worn by passengers and by the driver in employer-provided vehicles.
  •  High-contact areas in employer-provided vehicles must be sanitized before each trip or at least two times daily if in continuous use.
  •  Employers must  provide training to employees about ensuring appropriate social distancing when in their personal vehicles.

For more information about Oregon OSHA workplace guidance and resources related to the coronavirus outbreak, visit https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/re/covid-19.aspx

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.  

 

Attached Media Files: Oregon OSHA logo , DCBS logo
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Video ceremony honors Oregon workers who died on the job in 2019 (Photo) - 04/27/20

(Salem) – It’s a time to remember those who died on the job. It’s a time to grieve with families, friends, and communities. It’s a moment to reflect on – and renew – our responsibility to provide and maintain safe and healthy workplaces.

Oregon workers who died on the job in 2019 are being honored with an online video ceremony as the official observance of Workers Memorial Day – Tuesday, April 28 – approaches. The state’s Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) and the Oregon AFL-CIO invite Oregonians to view the 2020 ceremony in an online video, which was created in light of the public health crises triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The video of the memorial service, coordinated by the Oregon AFL-CIO, is now available: https://youtu.be/IicHNwQKZD4.

State Sen. Shemia Fagan reads the names of Oregon workers who died on the job in 2019. Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood, Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor, and Rev. Richard Davis of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem also make remarks.

“On April 28, we remember and mourn the Oregonians who died on the job as a result of workplace injuries and illness in 2019, and we recommit ourselves to protecting working people from injury and disease on the job,” Trainor said. “This issue has never been more relevant than it is right now amidst a global pandemic, and Oregon’s unions will never stop advocating for the safest workplaces possible. Today, we mourn the dead, and we commit to fight like hell for the living.”   

Driven by efforts on the part of labor, business, and government, Oregon has seen its workplace fatality rate steadily decline for decades. Yet, there are still far too many preventable on-the-job deaths each year.

“We are all in many ways more isolated than we could have imagined just a few short months ago,” Wood said. “But that is also why it is important that Workers Memorial Day not simply pass by unnoticed. Because for the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in Oregon workplaces last year, the crisis did not begin a few weeks ago. They have already experienced the greatest loss many of us will ever experience – the unexpected loss of a father, of a daughter, of a mother, of a son, or of a friend.”

The annual Workers Memorial Day serves as a nationwide day of remembrance. The observance is traditionally held on April 28 because Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act on that date in 1970.

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

The Oregon AFL-CIO is the statewide federation of affiliated unions, representing over 300,000 working Oregonians.  Learn more at www.oraflcio.org.

 

Attached Media Files: DCBS logo , Oregon OSHA logo