August 24th, 2020

HR News

Oregon OSHA Proposed Plan for Addressing COVID-19 Risks Within the Workplace

On August 17, 2020 Oregon OSHA released their proposed plan for addressing COVID-19 risks within the workplace. This ruling is currently still in the draft phase and is open for public comments until August 31, 2020. The projected timeline for these temporary rules would be from September 14, 2020 through March 13, 2021 (180 days). Most of the proposed plan outlines precautions that most veterinary hospitals are already taking at this time, so this hopefully will not be too much of a burden on you and your practice.

All Workplaces Requirements

The Oregon OSHA’s temporary rule addressing COVID-19 draft currently outlines the following requirements for all workplaces in the state:

  1. Social Distancing (Social distance whenever possible. Barriers may need to be installed)
    1. All employers must ensure social distancing of 6-feet between individuals. If an employer can demonstrate that social distancing cannot be done practically, the employer must ensure that face coverings are worn and that as much distance as practical is maintained.
    1. The 6-foot social distancing measure can also be met by having an impermeable barrier that creates a “droplet buffer” of at least 6-feet in distance as measured between the mouths of the affected individuals.
    1. The rules go on to define that whenever employees are transported in a motor vehicle for work purposes, the center points of the seats of any passengers not part of the same household must be separated by at least 3-feet.

Note: How we are interpreting this portion of the rules is that you can meet the 6-foot social distancing portion by either spacing your employees within the workplace out by 6’ or by installing impermeable barriers. If neither options are feasible then employees must wear face coverings and social distance as far as possible when feasible. We are hoping they will clarify this more in the final draft.

  • Face Coverings (Wear face coverings at all times while in the workplace)
    • The employer must ensure that everyone in the workplace or other premises subject to the employer’s control wears face coverings (masks, cloth coverings, or face shields) in the following scenarios:
      • whenever the 6-foot distancing requirement cannot be consistently assured,
      • whenever customers, vendors, or other visitors are present,
      • when work requires employees to be within 6-feet of one or more individuals for more than 5 minutes either in a singular instance or in all cases when work requires such contact more than 30-minutes total in the course of a single working day,
      • whenever 6-foot distancing cannot be reliably maintained between individuals (for example, face coverings must be worn in corridors, restrooms, elevators, and stairwells),
      • whenever employees are transported in a motor vehicle for work purposes all individuals in the vehicle must wear face coverings, regardless of the distance involved, unless all individuals in the vehicle are members of the same household

  • Sanitation (Routinely clean all high touch surfaces multiple times a day)
    • All employers must ensure that all high-contact surfaces used by multiple employees (door handles, telephones, cash registers, computers, drinking fountains, seatbelts, etc.) are thoroughly cleaned at the beginning of each shift.
    • All shared equipment and high-touch surfaces must be cleaned before use by another employee.
    • The employer must ensure that employees have the supplies necessary and are able to use proper hand hygiene before and after using shared equipment or tools and before eating, drinking, applying cosmetics, or smoking.
  • Social Distancing Officer (Identify someone for role)
    • Employers with at least 25 employees at any time must designate one or more employees who will be responsible to assist the employer in identifying appropriate social distancing, proper face covering use, and sanitation measures and ensure such policies and procedures are implemented.
  • Employee Information & Training (Post poster, talk about policies, ensure team is trained)
    • Employers must provide information and training to their employees:
      • Employers must post the “COVID-19 Hazards Poster,” which will be provided by Oregon OSHA.
      • Employers must notify their employees about the social distancing requirements and how they will be implemented in the workplace, and employers must provide an opportunity for employee feedback about those practices (through the Social Distancing Officer and through either the Safety Committee, an interactive safety meeting, or both). Such notification must be conducted in a manner and language understood by the affected workers.
      • Employers must provide an explanation of the employer’s policies and procedures for employees to report signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Such explanations must be conducted in a manner and language understood by the affected workers.
  • Medical Removal (Allow employees to take FFCRA Leave or OR Paid Sick Leave)
    • Employers will also be required to address the medical removal of employees with symptoms, undergoing testing, or otherwise requiring isolation:
      • Employers must provide information about any paid leave to which employees would be entitled by company policy as well as under the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA).
      • Whenever a medical provider or public health official recommends isolation or quarantine, the worker(s) must be reassigned to duties that do not involve in-person contact. Such reassignment must continue until the need no longer exists, based on guidance from the medical provider or involved public health officials.
        • To the degree reassignment is not possible, the employer must allow workers to use leave to which they are entitled under the FFCRA. If the employer has previously opted out of the paid sick leave provisions of the FFCRA, then the employer must provide up to two weeks of paid reassignment leave in addition to whatever benefits to which the worker would otherwise be entitled.
          • Exception: Employers otherwise required to provide paid reassignment leave who experienced a reduction of more than 20 percent in gross revenue between the 2nd calendar quarter of 2019 and the 2nd calendar quarter of 2020 are not required to provide additional paid leave.
      • Employees who are reassigned for medical removal reasons are entitled to return to their previous job duties without any adverse action as a result of the medical removal.

Workplaces at Heightened Risk

In addition to the requirements for all workplaces, Oregon OSHA’s proposal also goes on to provide guidelines for “Workplaces at Heightened Risk.” At this time, the draft does not clearly define whether the veterinary industry would fall into this category or not. Currently the document defines a “Heightened Risk Workplace” as: any job duty or work operation that requires an employee to be within 6-feet of another individual for longer than 15 minutes and that includes the direct touching of the individual with the employee’s hands or by the use of instruments or tools.

Since our industry regularly has scenarios of individuals being in close proximities of each other for extended periods of time, it could be argued that veterinary hospitals could fall in the “Workplace at Heightened Risk” category. If Oregon OSHA classifies veterinary hospitals as such, these additional rules would apply:

  1. Conduct an Exposure Risk Assessment (Conduct an assessment created by OR OSHA)
    1. Each employer covered by this subsection must conduct a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment, without regard to the use of personal protective equipment or face coverings, that considers 10+ risk elements.
  2. Document Exposure Risk Assessment in Writing (Have documentation ready in case of audit)
    1. Each employer covered by the subsection of this rule must document their exposure risk assessment in writing and include the employee’s information conducting the assessment and some information about the jobs that will be potentially impacted. By COVID-19.
  3. Enhanced Employee Information and Training (Provide training from an expert)
    1. In addition to the training requirements for all workplaces of this rule, enhanced employee training must include the following provisions:
      1. The training is overseen or conducted by a person knowledgeable in the covered subject matter as it relates to the workers’ workplace, service, or job operations;
      1. The training material is appropriate in content and vocabulary to the education, literacy, and language of the affected workers; and
      1. Provide an opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable in the program’s subject matter and basic epidemiology as it relates to the workplace, service, or operations.
  4. Enhanced Sanitation (Setup a cleaning schedule)
    1. In addition to those sanitation measures required in all workplaces under this rule, each employer covered by this subsection must develop and implement an appropriate schedule for routine cleaning and decontamination of contaminated materials between each customer and between each employee shift change.

As previously mentioned, this proposal is still set as a draft and is not official yet. Since it is a draft the proposal could stay as is, could have slight adjustments made to it, or could be completely overhauled prior to its expected implementation date of September 14, 2020. Oregon OSHA should finalize this proposal in the first two weeks of September, and will hopefully give businesses a reasonable amount of time to comply. Once we have the finalized requirements, we will update this information for you.

August 10th, 2020


July Data Review: Keeping Your Head Above Water

July Data Review:
Keeping Your Head Above Water

July’s data continues to present a strong rebound in veterinary medicine, another month of nearly all major KPIs – Revenue, Transactions, ATC, and New Clients – showing growth over July 2019.

The strong July KPIs presented challenges at the clinic level, however. Many clinics are struggling to keep up with demand, and teams are getting burned out. Some clinics are not able to accept the influx of new clients while meeting existing client demands. All the growth is great, obviously, but you’ll want to make sure your staff is not getting burned out and you are instituting supporting methods while the demand continues.  

Revenue is the product of Transactions and Average Transaction Charge (ATC).

July revenue was up 11%, representing a slightly slower uptick than June’s growth at 17%. New pet ownership, coupled with processing pent-up demand, seems to be the driving force behind continued strong revenue growth.

Below is a breakdown of revenue category performance for July 2020 compared to July 2019. Boarding and grooming continue to struggle since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Dietary foods are continuing to struggle as well, possibly because of clients burning through inventory they stocked up in March/April, along with a potential push to online pharmacy purchases. Similar to June, the strongest revenue growth categories were Laboratory, Surgery, and Imaging. 

Transactions can be thought of as volume of visits into the hospital, and that’s obviously where we’ve seen some major negative impacts.

Transactional growth for July was about even at -1%, down from 3% growth in June. With most hospitals continuing to offer curbside care and the inefficiencies this presents, strong transactional volume is contributing to staff burnout.

Average Transaction Charge is the average amount spent during a visit.

ATC is the only key metric that has maintained positive growth each month since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, and July is no different at 11% growth. With sharp increases in revenue categories like Laboratory and Surgery and seemingly greater compliance with curbside care, it is no wonder why ATC is seeing such strong growth.

New Client Growth continues its positive trend in July. New pet ownership during the pandemic and the shifting of old clients to new hospitals due to capacity issues is the driving force behind New Client Growth.

Be sure to keep up with our daily stats on iVET360’s dedicated COVID-19 site to see how you are faring against the rest of the industry. We also invite you to take advantage of three complimentary months of our Pulse reporting platform so you can more easily and accurately monitor your business and navigate this difficult time.