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Oregon OSHA fines employers $825K for willful job safety violations

For immediate release
Nov. 5, 2019
Contact information
Aaron Corvin, Public Information Officer
971-718-6973, aaron.corvin@oregon.gov
Salem, OR — In a series of related enforcement actions, Oregon OSHA has fined multiple employers more than $800,000 for willful job safety violations linked to a property in Josephine County used to house workers and to process hemp.

The violations by five employers – all located in southern Oregon – included allowing an estimated 25 workers to occupy a condemned building that could have collapsed and severely injured or killed them.

The employers connected to the reckless disregard for workplace safety and health requirements are: Eighteen New Hope LLC; Jai B Levy and Yoram Levy and Yuval Magid; Jai B Levy and Yoram Levy; Yuval Magid; and Safe & Simple LLC.

At issue was a property in Murphy, an unincorporated area of Josephine County, where the employers were trimming and packaging hemp for resale. Oregon OSHA launched an investigation of the operation based on a referral from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

The investigation centered on a 23,398-square-foot building – which included working and living areas – that had been deemed unsafe for occupation by Josephine County building safety officials.

Instead of addressing the building’s “open and obvious” structural defects that could have caused the building to collapse, according to Oregon OSHA’s investigation, employers allowed an estimated 25 people to work, live, cook, and sleep in and around it. Also, the investigation identified major gaps in and under the building’s walls that exposed employees to water, rodents, and insects. It also pinpointed a lack of exit routes and padlocked doors that left workers no safe way to escape the building in case of a collapse or fire.

“Our rules are clear about providing people with a safe and healthy place to work, including making necessary repairs and following sound safety practices,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “The same goes for our requirements when employers provide housing to workers. The neglect in this case is staggering and utterly inexcusable.”

Oregon OSHA issued citations with $165,000 in penalties to each of the five employers, for a total of $825,000 in fines. Each citation outlined the same five willful violations identified by the agency. A willful violation occurs when an employer intentionally or knowingly disregards workplace safety and health requirements.


Altogether, the violations are as follows:

  • Failure to make the building structurally safe and to have it properly inspected before allowing employees to enter, occupy, and work within it.
  • Failure to ensure living areas were safe, in good repair structurally, and stable on their foundations.
  • Failure to provide permanent, unobstructed exit routes to leave work areas safely during emergencies.
  • Failure to provide two or more exit routes that were necessary for employees to safely escape during a structural collapse or fire.
  • Failure to ensure exit doors were unhindered for use during an emergency. Two exit doors were blocked by padlocks on the outside of each door.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health.


The agency’s technical staff members can answer questions about rules and how to apply them:

Phone: 503-378-3272

Toll-free in Oregon: 800-922-2689

Email: tech.web@oregon.gov

Online Contact Form

 

Contact Oregon OSHA’s no-cost consultation services for help with safety and health programs:

Phone: 503-378-3272

Toll-free in Oregon: 800-922-2689

Field office locations and phone numbers

Email: consult.web@oregon.gov

 

Visit Oregon OSHA’s A-to-Z topic index, which offers guides, fact sheets, rules, and more about an array of subjects: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/az-index.aspx

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About Oregon OSHA:

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.

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