ALBANY, Ore. — The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited an Albany frozen food plant for failing to maintain distance between workers, even after several employees who work on the packaging lines tested positive for COVID-19.
OSHA began inspecting National Frozen Foods in Albany on April 20 after it received multiple complaints about the working conditions in the facility. The inspection included employee interviews.
Employers are required to maintain distancing policies to keep workers at least six feet apart. At National Frozen Foods, however, the company allowed 18 employees to stand in lines of nine people at a distance of 2-4 feet apart, OSHA said. The employees packaged frozen fruits and vegetables on conveyor lines.
“We expect employers to follow the appropriate requirements to protect workers against the spread of this disease,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Continuing to do business as usual at the expense of worker safety is not acceptable.”
The citation includes a proposed $2,000 fine.
Vice President Steve Schossberger said in a statement to KGW that National Frozen Foods will appeal the citation.
"...National Frozen Foods (NFF) Albany strongly maintains that measures were in line with the CDC’s guidance for critical infrastructure (an essential agriculture and food business) were put in place by the company before, during, and after the governor’s executive order 20-12 to help combat the effects of the global pandemic that is COVID-19..." Schossberger's statement said. "...Between March 23rd and April 20th, the team members working on the case packing line were wearing full PPE: gloves, hair nets and face shields. The OSHA investigator knows this and made no note of it and did not take these important facts into consideration. On April 23rd NFF Albany voluntarily shut down its Packaging department, and thoroughly deep cleaned all areas of the facility."
If you'd like to report your workplace for coronavirus-related violations, visit OSHA's site here.