Proposed Oregon OSHA Rule Not Enough

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September 13, 2020 – Today the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), a major multi-state healthcare worker union representing workers at multiple employers in the Pacific Northwest, slammed a proposed OSHA infectious disease guideline. OFNHP called for Oregon OSHA to go back to the drawing board and add key components to their proposed COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) the agency has been preparing to roll out.

“COVID-19 protections are essential for Oregon workers and public health. OSHA was created for this purpose. The current Emergency Temporary Standard Oregon OSHA has proposed is missing key elements and would have dangerous consequences if rolled out in its current form,” warned Paul Seer, a recovery room nurse at Kaiser Permanente, speaking in his role as an OFNHP union leader.

“Among the many missing elements in the standards are whistleblower protections, ventilation requirements, risk assessment analysis except in 'high risk' jobs, and employee training requirements. Also missing are protections acknowledging the prevailing research proving the airborne transmission route of Covid-19. Financial protections such as paid leave with forced employee quarantining are being threatened to be removed. The sum total of protections currently being included are almost none.”

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The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), AFT Local 5017 represents more than 5,500 union healthcare workers at major healthcare employers in Oregon and Washington state, including nurses, physician assistants, dental hygienists, hospital techs, physical therapists, medical social workers, and more. OFNHP is a key stakeholder in the Alliance of Health Care Unions, and a proud affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.