Oregon OSHA faults 2 employers for similar failures to protect workers against COVID-19

Salem – Oregon OSHA has issued more than $23,000 in fines to two different businesses for engaging in the same hazardous behavior: refusing to carry out proven steps to help protect workers from the coronavirus disease.

In separate enforcement actions, the division issued citations to Café 22 West in Salem and Howard’s Pharmacy in Lakeview.

The citations resulted from complaint-based inspections. After attempting unsuccessfully to resolve the issues raised in multiple complaints without an enforcement visit, Oregon OSHA initiated worksite inspections. The inspections found both employers willfully failing to implement health hazard control measures – such as face coverings and physical distancing – and continuing to operate in hazardous conditions, despite having been put on notice well before the inspection itself began.

Both cases illustrate failures to account for reasonable and established measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through employee-to-employee or customer-to-employee transmission.

“In addressing complaints involving COVID-19 and the workplace, we have started with efforts to engage and educate the employers involved about what they needed to do. In most cases, we have been able to resolve any issues without an actual enforcement visit,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “But as these two particular cases demonstrate, we will continue to bring our enforcement tools to bear when employers choose to disregard requirements.”

Here is a summary of each of the division’s enforcement actions:

Café 22 West – citation issued Aug. 18

This inspection concerned activities at a restaurant and retail fruit store.

It found the employer refused to furnish control measures to help protect about 18 employees from potential exposure to COVID-19. The employees’ jobs included hosting, cooking, cleaning, and serving customers.

The control measures that could have been provided – but were not – included implementing physical distancing and ensuring employees and customers wear face coverings.

Because of the employer’s refusal to comply, Oregon OSHA posted a Red Warning Notice at the business. Such a notice makes it clear a workplace is unsafe and should not continue operating until corrections are made.

Still, the employer refused to change course.

Altogether, Oregon OSHA is proposing a total fine of $13,900. That includes an $8,900 penalty for a willful violation of the requirement to provide health hazard controls and a $5,000 penalty for failing to abide by the Red Warning Notice. 

Howard’s Pharmacy – citation issued Sept. 1

This inspection included an examination of worker and customer interactions involving the indoor and outdoor spaces of a pharmacy and retail business.

It found the employer refusing to provide health hazard control measures to help protect an estimated nine employees from potential exposure to COVID-19. The employees were working inside and outside of the establishment.

The control measures that could have been provided – but were not – included implementing physical distancing and ensuring employees and customers wear face coverings.

In this case, too, after working with the employer for a week, Oregon OSHA posted a Red Warning Notice at the business because of its refusal to comply.  

Altogether, the division is proposing a total fine of $9,400. That includes an $8,900 penalty for a willful violation of the requirement to provide health hazard controls. It also includes a $500 penalty for continuing to operate in violation of the Red Warning Notice provisions.

The smaller penalty for the Red Warning Notice violation reflects the employer’s partial attempt to comply by moving operations curbside, although it still had not instituted face coverings when six feet of separation could not be consistently maintained between customers and employees or between employees.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers and workers a variety of consultation, information, and education resources addressing COVID-19.

COVID-19 citations – a summary

Since March, Oregon OSHA has issued 18 citations to employers for violating requirements to protect workers from COVID-19. Penalties for non-willful violations ranged from $100 to $2,000, while penalties for willful violations ranged from $8,900 to $14,000. The following summary is not an exhaustive list, as more citations are pending:

Unger Farms Inc. – Cornelius – did not provide one handwashing facility per 10 employees per the temporary emergency rule in agriculture.

Dillon & Associates (dba NW Office Liquidations) – Portland – furniture store was not closed to the public per executive order.

S&J Entertainment LLC – Portland – adult entertainment club was not closed to the public per executive order.

National Frozen Foods Corporation – Albany – did not provide health hazard controls such as physical distancing.

Old Trapper Smoked Products Inc. – Forest Grove – did not provide health hazard controls, including physical distancing; face coverings; or barriers.

Cabela’s Wholesale LLC – Springfield – did not provide health hazard controls such as physical distancing.

City Liquidators Inc. – Portland – furniture store was not closed to the public per executive order.

Barenbrug USA Inc. – Tangent – did not provide health hazard controls such as physical distancing.

Masterbrand Cabinets – Grants Pass – forest products manufacturer did not provide health hazard controls, including physical distancing and face coverings.

Glamour Salon – Salem – willfully failed to follow executive order prohibiting operation of barber shops and hair salons.

Mounts Enterprises (dba Casey’s Restaurant) – Roseburg – willfully failed to follow prohibition of on-premises consumption of food or drink.

Dalin LLP – North Bend – restaurant willfully failed to follow prohibition of on-premises consumption of food or drink.

I&N Inc. – Veneta – gas station and minimart did not use health hazard control measures such as physical distancing and face coverings.

Laui Life Coffee LLC (dba Kevista Coffee) – Bend – willfully failed to implement face coverings per sector-specific guidance for bars and restaurants.

Gold Standard Investment Group LLC – Central Point – did not follow requirements of the temporary emergency rule in agriculture, including adjacent toilet and handwashing facilities; sanitation schedule; and field sanitation information for workers.

Kelli Bieber – Central Point – did not follow requirements of the temporary emergency rule in agriculture, including adjacent toilet and handwashing facilities; sanitation schedule; and field sanitation information for workers.

Cal Farms Inc. – Oregon City – did not follow the requirement of the temporary emergency rule in agriculture to provide field sanitation information for workers.

Oregon Berry Packing Inc. – Hillsboro – did not follow the requirement of the temporary emergency rule in agriculture to provide field sanitation information for workers.