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Oregon OSHA fines Dundee winery for confined space rules violations

For immediate release

Aug. 5, 2021

Contact information

​​​Aaron Corvin, Public Information Officer
971-718-6973, aaron.corvin@dcbs.​oregon.gov
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Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA has fined a custom crush winery in Dundee $11,100 for violating job safety standards designed to protect workers from the hazards of confined spaces.  

The division cited Corus Estates & Vineyards LLC following an investigation into the death of a worker.

A confined space is one that meets all of the following conditions:

  • It is large enough and so configured that an employee can fully enter the space and perform work.
  • It has limited or restricted means for entry, exit, or both.
  • It is not designed for continuous human occupancy.

The investigation found that at approximately 10:30 a.m. Feb. 1, 2021, a cellar worker was discovered unresponsive in an empty 30,000-gallon wine tank. The employee was tasked with pumping out about 500 gallons of wine remnants known as lees – a mix of dead yeast, grape skins, seeds, stems, and tartrates – from the tank into a secondary tank for further processing. Low-pressure nitrogen gas was being pumped in from the top of the tank to prevent oxidation of the remnants. 

The employee was asphyxiated as a result of the displacement of oxygen due to the low-pressure nitrogen gas in the tank.

Oregon OSHA cited Corus Estates & Vineyards for the following serious violations: 

  • Not performing initial testing for atmospheric hazards before entry.
  • Not ensuring that a required attendant and entry supervisor was designated for the permit confined space entry.
  • Not developing procedures to ensure employees who are entering permit confined spaces with alternate entry procedures are following those procedures.

Total proposed penalty for these violations: $7,500

  • Not ensuring that all confined space permits were reviewed after they were canceled. Several of the permits were not filled out and were missing required information. 
  • Not making sure all confined space entry permits included information about rescue services and how to contact them.

Total proposed penalty for these violations: $1,200.

  • Not having permit entry rescue procedures, including the process for contacting rescue services. 
  • Not conducting practice entry rescues for presses, tanks, and below-ground permit-required confined spaces.

Total proposed penalty for these violations: $1,200.

  • Not training employees on recognizing confined spaces or procedures necessary to safely enter a confined space before an employee’s assigned duties changed. 
  • Not ensuring that all employees, whose primary language was Spanish, were proficient in their assigned confined space duties.

Total proposed penalty for these violations: $1,200.

“Every workplace death is a tragedy. And confined spaces are unforgiving. Employers must anticipate the risks and ensure that they protect their employees who enter confined spaces,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “When something goes wrong in such a space, it is already too late to address the problem.”

More information on confined spaces is available on Oregon OSHA’s website.

Employers are encouraged to use free resources – available now from Oregon OSHA and involving no fault, no citations, and no penalties – for help protecting their employees:

Consultation services – Provides free help with safety and health programs, including how to control and eliminate hazards, and hands-on training

Technical staff – Helps employers understand requirements and how to apply them to their worksites

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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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