22 states or territories, including Oregon, have state plans approved and monitored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These state plans are “safety and health programs operated by individual states” in lieu of Federal OSHA and must be at least as effective (ALAE) as Federal OSHA requirements. State plans cover most private sector employees and state and local government workers, while Federal OSHA covers any federal employees or those specifically excluded from state plans. In this article, a Portland construction attorney discusses everything you need to know about the Oregon State Plan.
The Oregon Safe Employment Act
In 1972, Oregon gained initial approval for its state plan and occupational safety and health legislation through the Oregon Safety Employment Act. The Oregon Safety Employment Act is similar to OSHA in that its primary purpose is “to ensure as far as possible safe and healthful working conditions for every working person in Oregon.” This goal was to be accomplished by way of state-specific safety and health regulations, including right-to-know and protection from discrimination.
Under the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Code, or OAR Chapter 437, Oregon established six general subject areas or divisions. The divisions are as follows:
- General Administrative Rules
- General Occupational Safety and Health Rules
- Maritime Activities
- Forest Activities
The Construction Division, or Division 3, of the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Code is where you will find a number of standards unique to Oregon OSHA, including those involving fall protection, excavations, and cranes and derricks. It is important to familiarize yourself with these requirements as many are more strict than federal OSHA regulations, such as the permissible exposure limits (PELs) for air contaminants.
For example, Subdivision Z: Toxic & Hazardous Substances in the Construction Division lays out that an employee’s exposure to any of the following substances shall not exceed the 8-hour time-weighted average limit given for that substance:
- Beryllium and beryllium compounds
- Carbon disulfide
- Carbon tetrachloride
Additionally, within the 8-hour time period, the substance must not exceed the acceptable ceiling concentration for the given substance. The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Code adopts only the following federal regulations of toxic and hazardous substances: Asbestos, Chromium, Cadmium, and Methylene Chloride.
Related: Oregon State Plan Exceptions
The permissible exposure limits for certain air contaminants is neither the only Oregon standard stricter than federal regulation nor the only regulation unique to Oregon law. Consulting with a Portland construction lawyer from Cotney Construction Law can help you familiarize yourself with these standards, how they differ from federal OSHA requirements, and how they will impact your jobsite.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.