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Oregon OSHA to ramp up spot checks on businesses potentially violating coronavirus safety orders

OSHA has received more than an average years’ worth of complaints in just over a month as a result of the pandemic.
Credit: Cannabis Nation

PORTLAND, Ore. — The state agency in charge of investigating workplace safety violations says it will ramp up spot checks to verify that businesses are complying with Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has received more than an average years’ worth of complaints in just over a month as a result of the pandemic. The agency said it typically receives just over 2,000 complaints in a year. From March 2 through April 12, OSHA has received 2,887 complaints related to COVID-19. About 1,200 of those complaints were made the week Gov. Brown issued an executive stay-home order, requiring some businesses to shut down and others to enforce social distancing guidelines, such as keeping employees at least six feet from each other, if they wanted to remain open.

OSHA said it has received complaints about businesses not closing despite being ordered to, as well was the failure of other businesses to implement social distancing measures for its employees.

As the agency conducts more spot checks, it will focus on recent complaints and those that provided specific allegations, as well as contact information for the person who filed the complaint. People who report violations can request confidentiality and their identity will be shielded, OSHA said.

So far, OSHA said it has begun conducting about a dozen on-site inspections. The investigative process could take weeks and officials are working to accelerate that process. The Portland Tribune last week reported OSHA had yet to issue a coronavirus-related citation. 

The ramped-up spot checks are aimed at verifying what employers are doing to follow Gov. Brown’s executive order, without requiring the full formal inspection process.

“This approach will allow us to verify the responses to complaints that we’ve received so far from employers while focusing our enforcement resources on those employers most likely to be in continued non-compliance,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA.

You can file a report with OSHA online in English or Spanish, and if you need advice on how to keep your workplace safe, you can visit this website.

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