Amidst the chaos of the global pandemic, OR-OSHA is moving forward with proposed changes to two administrative rules that would stack the deck against employers: OR-OSHA’s Proposed Amendments in General Administrative Rules to Clarify Employer’s Responsibilities and OR-OSHA’s Proposed Increase of Certain Minimum and Maximum Penalties for Alleged Violations.
These rule changes are about agency convenience in contested cases, NOT about employee safety.
Oregon law says that for an employer to be liable for a serious violation, OR-OSHA must prove that the employer knew, or with the “exercise of reasonable diligence” could have known, of the violation. Recently, the Oregon Supreme Court made clear that the burden is on OR-OSHA to prove what is "reasonable" and what is "diligence" under the circumstances of each case. But these rules will change that Court ruling.
- OR-OSHA’s proposed rule redefines “reasonable diligence” to make employers strictly liable, so that the agency can easily win a contested case.
- It also makes the “unpreventable employee conduct” defense entirely useless.
- In a different rulemaking, OR-OSHA’s Administrator is given unlimited discretion to impose huge penalties: $13,538 for any “serious” violation and up to $135,382 for any “willful” violation. These enormous fines could be assessed for just two paperwork violations!
Without strong opposition, OR-OSHA will adopt these rule changes at the end of October! Oregon’s businesses are already under immense pressure from OR-OSHA and are struggling to stay afloat during COVID-19. Without your immediate action, employers could be subject to strict liability and sweeping fines!
Submit your comments today to OPPOSE these proposed rule changes. Comments are due by October 30th.