Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA has cited National Frozen Foods in Albany for failing to implement physical distancing measures to protect workers from the spread of the coronavirus.
The citation, which carries a proposed penalty of $2,000, stems from an inspection launched April 20 in response to multiple complaints about the facility, which produces frozen fruits and vegetables.
“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.”
Under a state executive order aimed at slowing the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are required to maintain physical distancing policies to keep workers at least six feet apart.
The practice at National Frozen Foods ran counter to those requirements, according to Oregon OSHA’s inspection, which included interviews of employees. The company allowed 18 employees – stationed at frozen packaging lines nine at a time during day and swing shifts – to work at a distance of two feet to four feet from each other.
The company allowed this practice to continue after multiple employees who worked on the packaging lines tested positive for COVID-19.
Oregon OSHA’s inspection centered on the position of employees and related operations involving packaging conveyor lines on the west side of the facility.
The division maintains and enforces rules requiring employers to provide safe and healthy workplaces, including implementing control measures to protect against health hazards. Under Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order – issued to address the public health crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic – Oregon OSHA is tasked with enforcing requirements with respect to employers and potential worker exposures. The division continues to screen complaints, conduct spot checks, and initiate inspections.
In addition to its enforcement activities, the division offers employers a variety of resources addressing COVID-19.