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April 22, 2021
Oregon continues COVID-19 enforcement

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA), a division of the Department of Consumer & Business Services, continues to enforce the state’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS). The agency recently cited a bar, a restaurant, and two home improvement stores for exposing employees to risk of infection.

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Oregon OSHA fined Twisted River Saloon in Springfield $18,430 for violating the ETS. The agency inspected Twister River Saloon in response to multiple complaints. The employer willfully continued to potentially expose workers to the virus, despite a public health order limiting the capacity of indoor dining to zero in an “extreme risk" county.

Oregon assesses a county’s risk level—low, moderate, high, and extreme—based on infection levels reported in the county over the previous 14 days. Businesses must comply with capacity levels set for the current risk level.

Oregon OSHA cited Twisted River for three violations of the temporary COVID-19 rule:

  • Allowing indoor dining, which disregarded capacity limitations imposed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA)—a willful violation, carrying a discretionary penalty of $17,800;
  • Failing to develop and implement an infection control plan, which would include redesigning the work space to enable physical distancing and reducing the use of shared surfaces and tools—a serious violation, carrying a penalty of $315; and
  • Not conducting a COVID-19 risk assessment to identify potential employee exposure to the virus and address how to reduce such exposure—a serious violation, carrying a penalty of $315.

The agency also fined Gold Miner Restaurant in Grants Pass $17,900 for two violations of the ETS. Oregon OSHA cited the employer for willfully disregarding capacity limitations and failing to ensure employees wore a mask, face covering, or face shield as a means of infection source control.

Oregon OSHA also cited Lowe’s Home Improvement, fining the company $35,600 for violations of the temporary COVID-19 rules at stores in Redmond and Albany.

Lowe’s failed to protect employees from infection risk, according to Oregon OSHA, by willfully failing to ensure that all customers inside the retail stores wore a mask, face covering, or face shield to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It is not enough to leave the protection of employees in the hands of cooperative customers,” Oregon OSHA’s Michael Wood said in an agency statement.

“As most employers recognize, they must take appropriate steps to ensure that the rules in place are actually followed. When an employer is not prepared to take such steps, we can and will use our enforcement tools to address the issue.”

Both stores chose to disregard OHA requirements to ensure customers (older than age 5) who are inside an establishment wear a mask, face covering, or face shield as a means of infection source control, according to Oregon OSHA. The agency issued willful citations, each carrying a $17,500 penalty for each store.

State inspectors determined through employer and employee interviews that supervisors were fully aware of the requirement to ensure customer use of facial coverings and yet intentionally decided against complying with state requirements.

Oregon OSHA also cited the Redmond store for two serious violations of the ETS. The store did not perform a risk assessment to identify potential employee exposure to the virus and failed to develop and implement an infection control plan. A penalty of $300 was imposed for each violation.

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