— 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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
- 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.
technical staff members can answer questions about rules and how to apply them:
Online Contact Form
OSHA’s no-cost consultation services for help with safety and health programs:
locations and phone numbers
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