Employer Insights

Oregon OSHA - The Complete Guide for Administrative Rules

by Scott Herson-Hord, on Dec 14, 2021 10:14:00 AM

There are federal labor laws and regulations that pertain to occupational safety and health administration (OSHA), but each state also has its own set of OSHA laws in order to account for the unique characteristics and needs of each state. Oregon OSHA has six divisions that cover different industries and topics, with the first covering general administrative information.

One of the largest components of Oregon labor laws are the provisions regarding the health and safety of employees working throughout the state through Oregon OSHA.

Oregon OSHA General Overview and Information

The Oregon Safe Employment Act was passed in 1973 authorizing Oregon OSHA to help ensure safe and healthy working conditions for Oregon's employees working in businesses across the state while reducing the burden created by occupational injuries, disease, and sickness.

Oregon OSHA includes procedures to implement workplace safety and health provisions / rules throughout the state. It also provides guidance for enforcement of the legislation by the Department of Consumer and Business Services. 

Division I of Oregon OSHA details general administrative rules and information to ensure the health and safety of workers in Oregon. It addresses the Oregon OSHA definitions and terms included in the provisions, the purpose, and scope of those provisions, as well as inspections, violations and penalties, citations and corrections, appeals, complaints, posting requirements, and information regarding COVID-19. The myriad of terms and definitions included in Division I of Oregon OSHA can be found on pages 12 through 21 of the Division I document.

Oregon OSHA Inspections

Inspections are a core responsibility of Oregon OSHA compliance officers and are conducted without prior advanced notice, with a few exceptions. However, no matter the exception, advanced notice may be given 24 hours in advance at most. Penalties for violating advanced notice rules may include a fine of up to $1,000 and or up to 6 months in prison. 

Oregon OSHA inspections are prioritized according to severity of potential hazards and considers the highest priority on places of employment deemed to be the most unsafe. 

Priorities are labeled as such:

  • Imminent Danger (highest)
  • Fatality, catastrophe, or accident 
  • Complaint
  • Referral (essentially an informal complaint)
  • Programmed Inspections 
  • Follow-up Inspections 

Should an incident occur that results in the need for a high priority inspection, employers should preserve the incident scene. However, an exception can be made when it is possible to rescue the injured employee or a successful attempt to remove the danger is possible. Failure to preserve the scene will warrant a minimum penalty of at least $200.

Compliance officers have the right to enter and inspect any place of employment so long as it is during working hours or at another reasonable time, within reasonable limits, and in a reasonable manner. Compliance officers must also provide credentials to gain entry. 

Employers or a representative of the inspected party may accompany the compliance officer during the inspection, but a compliance officer may move forward with their inspection if the employer or representative is absent, or declines to accompany the inspector.

During an inspection, compliance officers may:

  • Inspect without disruption…
    • Records
    • Conditions
    • Structures
    • Machines
    • Materials
    • Methods for OSHA compliance
  • Photograph any unsafe acts, procedures, or hazards
  • Take exposure samples
  • Allow for a change in the accompanying individual from the inspected party,
    • And resolve any disputes as to who the accompanying individual shall be,
    • And deny the right to accompany if doing so interferes with the inspection in any way
  • Inform the employer or representative of any violations or hazards
  • Collect information to classify an apparent violation or hazard
  • Privately interview a reasonable number of employees
  • Receive information in confidence from an employer or employee
  • Stop the inspection if an imminent danger is observed, resulting in a possible Red Warning Notice

A Red Warning Notice is posted (by the compliance officer) in clear view of any person likely to use the place of employment, machine, device, apparatus, or equipment that constitutes a hazard. If a Red Warning Notice is posted on or for any of the above areas mentioned, then no employee may operate the hazard until the condition has been made safe, and the notice has been removed via a follow-up inspection.

Oregon OSHA Violations and Penalties

After an inspection, the compliance officer shall determine the likelihood of an accident causing injuries or illness, and relay that information to the employer in what’s known as a probability rating. Probability ratings may be labeled as low, medium, or high.

Factors that compliance officers may consider when determining a probability rating include:

  • The number of exposed employees
  • The exposure frequency and duration 
  • Employee proximity to the point of danger
  • The level of stress that work is performed under
  • The level of training and supervision
  • Workplace design
  • Other significant factors that may present themselves

The compliance officer also determines a severity rating for the violation or hazard. Severity ratings are based on the degree of injury or illness that is perceived as possible, or that may have already occurred. 

If multiple employees are injured or become ill, then the most serious case shall be used to determine the severity rating. Severity ratings may be classified as death, serious physical harm, or other than serious.

Oregon OSHA Fines & Penalties
According to Severity Rating

Other Than Serious

Serious Physical Harm


Probability Rating


Probability Rating


Probability Rating














High $300






Fine and penalty adjustments will be made based on the size of the employer’s business (except in cases where there is a failure to correct violations).

Oregon OSHA Fine & Penalty Adjustments
Based on Size of Business

Number of Employees

Reduction Adjustment















Other types of adjustments that may be made or required include:

  • History adjustments - Adjustments based on injuries, illnesses, and past violations or hazards from the previous three years
  • Good faith adjustments - Adjustments based on prior success and proper compliance with Oregon OSHA law

Penalty adjustments made due to size are the only adjustments made in the case of a repeat violation or willful violation. A repeat violation is defined as a second or subsequent violation (that is similar to or the same as the previous violation) within the previous three years. 

Other adjustments may be made for:

Adjustments will not reduce the penalty below $100 (in the case of a serious violation), or increase the penalty beyond $12,675.

Oregon OSHA Citations and Corrections

If the inspection uncovers a violation, Oregon OSHA sends a citation to the employer. These citations will generally include:

  • The name of the employer, place of employment, and inspection date
  • The date of the violation 
  • A factual description of the nature and location of the violation 
  • The type of violation (if not general)
  • The violated rule or provision 
  • A specified time frame to correct the violation
  • Any included penalties, suspended (waived) penalties, and the total amount of fines
  • A notice for the employer of their right to appeal the citation, penalty, or time frame to correct the violation
  • A notice for the employer stating appeals must be filed within 30 days of the citation

Citations may be served to employers by certified mail, by hand, or any other method acceptable to the employer. Once the employer receives the citation, they must post it for employees to see for at least three days or until the violation is corrected. Employers must also correct each violation by the ordered date and pay any incurred penalties by the 31st calendar day following the citation.

If an employer fails to correct a violation within the ordered time frame, they shall receive a notice that includes:

  • The date and number of the citation
  • The uncorrected violation
  • The original correction deadline
  • A notice that daily penalties shall continue to accumulate

Employers may apply to extend their correction time frame by submitting an application to Oregon OSHA. Applications must be in writing and must include:

  • The name and address of the employer, and the particular location of the place of employment
  • The citation number
  • The item number that corresponds to the violation in need of extension 
  • The reason for the request
  • Any interim steps being taken to protect employees in the meantime
  • A new date proposed by the employer

The employer must post a copy of the request for employees to easily view for at least 10 days following the request. Employees may contact the administrator if they feel the request is unjust.

Oregon OSHA Appeals and Complaints

Employers may appeal citations via a written request. Appeals must be filed with the Department of Consumer and Business Services and must be directed to Oregon OSHA. 

Appeals must be filed within 30 days of receiving whatever is being appealed and must explicitly state the items being contested. 

Employees that believe their employer is in violation of Oregon OSHA are able to submit a complaint online. An introductory video on how to do so is available. Oregon OSHA does recommend, however, that employees first attempt to resolve health and safety issues by reporting them to their supervisors, managers, or other appropriate parties before filing a complaint.

Oregon OSHA Posters and Posting Requirements

Oregon OSHA has posting requirements for the following documents:

  • The “Safety and Health Protection on the Job” Poster [permanently]
  • Copies of citations received [for at least three days, or until corrected]
  • Copies of citation amendments or withdrawals [for at least three days, or until corrected]
  • Copies of correction extension notices [until violation is corrected]
  • Copies of settlements [for at least ten days, or until corrected]
  • Copies of hearing notices [until hearing date]
  • Copies of variance applications [until final variance order is issued]
  • Copies of variance orders [20 days]
  • Copies of interim orders related to variance [as long as interim order is in effect]
  • Copies of correction extension applications [until extension is approved or denied]
  • Copies of citation reconsideration requests [until request is approved or denied]
  • Copies of feasibility determination relating to engineering controls [20 days]
  • Field Sanitation Notice [permanently]

An all-in-one Oregon Labor Law Poster can, in many cases, cover OSHA-required postings that do not pertain to any violations.  

If an employer violates any posting requirement from Oregon OSHA, they may receive penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation. 

Oregon OSHA and COVID-19 

Since June 21, 2021, OSHA's Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) rules have been in place to help protect employees from the dangers presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Due to the nature of the pandemic, these temporary provisions regarding COVID are continuously being amended. The most recent amendment, issued on September 14, 2021, addresses Medical Relief Benefits for healthcare workers. 

Currently, Oregon OSHA still has provisions in place in regards to COVID for:

Industries whose regulations are no longer required include:

  • Restaurants and other food and beverage establishments
  • Retail
  • Personal service providers 
  • Construction 
  • Professional and college sports
  • Fitness related businesses 
  • Child care and pre-k education programs
  • Law enforcement
  • Prisons and other custodial institutions

OSHA is one of the most expansive, detailed, and complex areas of law when it comes to employer compliance. There are so many protections for employees that employers must consider, it is insanity. Some industries even have extra laws and protections that cater to the needs and dangers of the industry. 

So how do you keep it all straight, while also ensuring compliance? An Oregon HR and Payroll company, like Greater Northern Staff Administrators (GNSA) can be of tremendous help - contact GNSA today to get started!

Guest Author: Scott Herson-Hord

Scott Herson-Hord Headshot-1Scott Herson-Hord is the CEO of Great Northern Staff Administrators (GNSA), an Oregon payroll services company that specializes in serving small to mid-size businesses with administrative solutions to streamline back-office processes from benefits to human resources. Starting his career in finance and working more than 10 years as a controller for various companies, Scott leveraged this experience over the next 22 years with GNSA to become one of the pacific northwest’s foremost experts in human capital management (HCM).

New call-to-action

Topics:ComplianceOregon Labor LawsState Labor Laws

View All Insights

Did You Know...

Recent legislative updates have just gone into effect throughout Oregon requiring updates to employee notices for minimum wage, paid leave, overtime, and more.

If a company's Oregon labor law posters have not been replaced in the workplace as of July 1st, 2023, the employer is out of compliance. Failure to display the required state and federal employment law notices can result in penalties, fines, and lawsuits.

Get Automatic Labor Law Poster Updates When Changes Happen 

Try a labor law poster subscription service and receive updated mandatory notices that need to be posted for employees as additional changes take place with Oregon's state or local labor laws. 

Subscribe To Other Updates Like This

Get More Employer Alerts Like This
Right To Your Inbox