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What Does Reopening a Safe and Strong Oregon Mean for Construction?



Governor Kate Brown’s May 15 executive order (No. 20-25), “Reopening a Safe and Strong Oregon,” provides for a phased reopening of recreational and economic activity in Oregon on a county-by-county basis as certain threshold prerequisites are met. All Oregon counties, with the exception of Multnomah County, have achieved the prerequisites for a Phase I reopening. Phase I allows certain businesses to operate, provided each business is able to maintain social distancing and comply with other health and safety guidelines. 

As most know, Governor Brown’s initial Covid-19-related executive order (No. 20-12), “Stay Home Save Lives” did not include construction on the list of businesses required to stop operations. Yet, the order did require that all businesses that remained operational follow the social distancing guidelines, and designate an employee or officer responsible for implementing and enforcing the social distancing guidelines consistent with the guidance from the Oregon Health Authority. For contractors, the recent order does not alter these requirements.

Executive order 20-12 also allowed most professional offices to remain open while encouraging telework whenever possible. Contractors, owners, subcontractor, and design professionals that resume work at a home or field office should read and follow “A Roadmap for Reopening Workplaces in Washington and Oregon During COVID-19.”

At each job site, Contractors must continue to work closely with their safety specialists to ensure compliance with these guidelines. This includes educating employees on how to protect themselves, what to do if they have symptoms, use of personal protective equipment--including gloves, masks, and eye protection--and promoting thorough and frequent hand washing and sanitation on job sites. Failure of employers to comply with the guidelines could result in an enforcement action by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA).

The practical impact of these policies and the overall impact from the pandemic on owners, design professionals, and contractors at all levels remains to be seen. Some activities may proceed unaffected, while others, depending the type of work and type of project, cannot be safely performed without workers coming in close proximity to others. And while General contractors are ultimately responsible for dictating site-specific safety protocol, the government’s detailed guidance leaves little room for interpretation.

Contractors and subcontractors at all levels must continue to work cooperatively to meet the project schedule within the contract price while adhering to government-imposed guidelines. Contractors who can help owners fulfill these requirements with limited impact may see increased demand and new opportunities. However, when that is not possible, the impacted party should look first to their contract for possible relief and consider their available options.

Continue to keep your business, employees, and clients safe by staying informed and educated with the resources below.

For more information and resources, visit the Oregon Construction Contractors Board Covid-19 Health and Safety resource page.

Oregon OSHA: Covid-19 Job Health and Safety Resources

Construction Industry Resources

These additional informational resources are not individually vetted by CCB. Any guidelines must be read in the context of official guidance as well as the specific circumstances of your job site: