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Fruit farm in The Dalles fined $37,800 for job safety violations

For immediate release
Nov. 18, 2019
Contact information
Aaron Corvin, Public Information Officer
971-718-6973, aaron.corvin@oregon.gov​​

Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA has fined Orchard View Inc., a fruit farm in The Dalles, $37,800 for five job safety violations – four of them repeat offenses – including failing to train employees in the safe operation of tractors. The failures exposed workers to serious injury or death. 

The agency opened an inspection of the company in response to a confidential complaint. During the inspection, the agency found four tractor rollovers had occurred since 2012, resulting in three operators being injured. The most recent of those injuries happened in May when a tractor operator jumped from the vehicle when it rolled over on a steep incline.Photograph of tractor rolled over nearly upside down and up against a tree in a fruit orchard.

The rollover problems prompted Oregon OSHA to expand its inspection of Orchard View. 

The inspection found employees had raised concerns with the company about parking brakes on John Deere and Kubota tractors not being able to hold the loaded vehicles on the steep slopes in the orchard.

The company could have addressed those concerns by training employees to know when to avoid too-steep slopes, posting hazard signs indicating such situations, or allowing the tractor operator to stay in the cab – in control of the vehicle – by assigning another crew member to help with the work in the field.

Instead, Orchard View had this advice for tractor operators: Shove a piece of wood behind the wheels or drive on flat land. 

In fact, four of the five violations cited by Oregon OSHA involved the company failing to follow requirements for safely operating tractors. Those violations are:

  • Failing to ensure that parking brakes can secure loaded tractors on any grade on which they park, and on any surface free of ice or snow. 
  • Failing to train tractor operators to know when to stay off slopes too steep for safe operations in the orchard. Slopes that are too steep will likely cause a tractor to roll over. This was a repeat violation. 
  • Failing to train tractor operators to fasten their seatbelts when the tractor has a rollover protective structure. This was a repeat violation.
  • Allowing employees to operate tractors on a sloped hillside without rollover protective devices in the upright position. This was a repeat violation. 

“There are clear steps agricultural employers can take to control and eliminate hazards, and to provide proper safety training for their workers,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “As this case illustrates, ignoring such steps only serves to put people in harm’s way.”

Oregon OSHA also cited the company for failing to ensure its safety committee – after evaluating tractor rollovers – made recommendations to managers to prevent such potentially fatal accidents from happening again. This, too, was a repeat violation. 

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 page about safety and health in agriculture.

 

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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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