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Four Oregon high schools win prizes in media contest to promote young worker safety - 05/13/21

(Salem) – Teams of students at Parkrose, Ridgeview, Pendleton, and Sutherlin high schools have earned top prizes in a media contest designed to increase awareness about workplace safety for young workers.

High school students across Oregon were invited to participate in the annual contest organized by the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]). For the first time in the contest’s 13-year history, the 2020-2021 competition featured a graphic design category – in addition to the long-running video category – and a new theme: “Work. It can be more dangerous than you think.”

The top winners in each category were:

Video:

  • Safety – The Virtual Way, Parkrose High School – Portland ($500)

Graphic design:

  • Don’t Let Your Safety Stumble, Ridgeview High School – Redmond ($500)
  • Wire Trip, Pendleton High School ($400)
  • Dangerous Work, Sutherlin High School ($300)

Check out the winning submissions and video clips on the (O[yes]) website. The first-place winning teams in each category also earned a matching award for their schools. Students were invited to create a 30- to 90-second video or a graphic design that inspires young workers to think twice about their personal health and safety at work, while highlighting the contest’s theme.

The mission of (O[yes]) is to prevent injuries and illnesses to young workers through outreach, advocacy, and sharing resources with young workers, educators, employers, parents, and labor organizations.

The contest sponsors are SAIF Corporation, Oregon OSHA, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU, SafeBuild Alliance, Oregon chapters of the American Society of Safety Professionals, Oregon SHARP Alliance, Construction Safety Summit and Hoffman Construction.

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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 more information, visit osha.oregon.gov.

The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) is a nonprofit dedicated to preventing young worker injuries and fatalities. O[yes] members include safety and health professionals, educators, employers, labor and trade associations, and regulators. For more information, go to http://youngemployeesafety.org/.

 

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Thousands of people in Oregon are taking advantage of health coverage savings through the Marketplace (Photo) - 05/11/21

(Salem) – People in Oregon are enrolling in health coverage at a much higher rate than this time last year. As of April 30, 2021, more than 10,100 people in Oregon have newly enrolled in health coverage through the Marketplace, which is an increase of 31 percent over people who enrolled during this time last year and 80 percent more than enrolled during the same period in 2019.

Higher enrollment in the Marketplace from Feb. 15 through April 30 is likely due to the COVID-19 special enrollment period, which is open to anyone who needs health coverage and is eligible to shop through HealthCare.gov. This special enrollment period continues through Aug. 15, 2021.

In addition, people applying through the Marketplace are now eligible for substantially higher savings thanks to the American Rescue Plan. More than 4 in 5 people in Oregon now qualify for financial assistance in the form of premium tax credits, which reduce the cost of the monthly premium to have health coverage, and cost-sharing reductions to reduce the out-of-pocket costs associated with health care.

People already receiving premium tax credits are also receiving additional savings. Enrollees can choose to receive all of the increased tax credits with their 2021 tax return or they can update their HealthCare.gov application for 2021 coverage to reduce monthly premiums for the rest of the year. Enrollees who are already covered through the Marketplace receive additional savings of an average of $50 per person per month.

The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace offers a quick snapshot of the plans and savings to eligible Oregonians. The tool, available at OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop, and has been updated to correctly calculate additional savings now available to people shopping through the Marketplace. People who are currently enrolled through the Marketplace can preview extra savings and people who are not currently enrolled can prepare to enroll for the first time.

To apply, go to OregonHealthCare.gov and answer a few Oregon-specific questions to get to the right health coverage application. You can also search the “get help” directory on OregonHealthCare.gov to find an insurance agent or community partner organization to help complete the application and enroll. Insurance agents and community partners provide local, one-on-one assistance at no charge to the client. This help is available virtually and on the phone, and in person following safety protocols.

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The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, a part of state government, helps people get health insurance when they do not have job-based coverage, and do not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan or another program. The Marketplace is the state-level partner to HealthCare.gov, and a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov.

Attached Media Files: OHIM Logo
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Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA adopts rule extending COVID-19 workplace protections - 05/04/21

(Salem) – Oregon OSHA has adopted a rule to maintain risk-reducing safety measures for workers across the state against the coronavirus. Although the rule includes several changes based on the public comments received since the rule was proposed in late January, the basic requirements are largely consistent with those that have been in place since Oregon OSHA adopted a temporary workplace rule in November of last year.

The rule – which will be repealed when it is no longer needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace – takes effect today, at the end of a public process that included both stakeholder involvement and more than two months of public comment. As with the temporary rule it replaces, the rule includes such health protection measures as physical distancing; use of face coverings; employee notification and training; formal exposure risk assessment and infection control planning; and optimization and maintenance of existing ventilation systems.

One of the most significant areas of public comment concerned the lack of a specific sunset date or other trigger to automatically repeal the rule. As a result, the final rule includes considerably more detail about the process and criteria that will be used to make the decision o repeal the rule. Oregon OSHA determined that the ongoing pandemic required that the rule be extended to ensure workers receive basic protections from the workplace health hazard presented by COVID-19.

The rule went through the normal process, unlike the greatly abbreviated process allowed for a temporary rule, because Oregon state law does not allow a rule using that temporary process to be in place more than 180 days.

“We reviewed all of the comments – including the many comments that opposed the rule – and we gave particular consideration to those comments that explained their reasoning or provided concrete information," said Michael Wood, administrator of Oregon OSHA. “Although we chose to move forward with the rule, the final product includes a number of changes based on that record.”

“At the same time, we are keeping in place key protections for workers as part of Oregon’s larger and ongoing project to defeat COVID-19,” Wood said. “To allow the workplace COVID-19 protections to simply go away would have left workers far less protected. And it would have left employers who want to know what is expected of them with a good deal less clarity than the rule provides.”

Because Oregon OSHA determined it is not possible to assign a specific time for a decision to repeal the rule, Oregon OSHA has committed to consulting with the Oregon OSHA Partnership Committee, the two Infectious Disease Rulemaking Advisory Committees, the Oregon Health Authority, and other stakeholders to help determine when the rule can be repealed. The first of these discussions will take place no later than July 2021, and will continue every two months until the rule has been repealed. The indicators factoring into the decision will include infection rates (including the rate of spread of COVID-19 variants), positivity rates, and vaccination rates, as well as hospitalizations and fatalities.

While the final rule broadly reflects the temporary rule, it also includes some significant changes. Those include:

  • Reducing the number of industry-specific appendices by six and limiting such requirements specifically to those involving worker protection (which reduced the length of the appendices, and, therefore, of the entire rule, by more than 50 pages)
  • Dramatically reducing the K-12 schools appendix and removing all references to cohorts and square footage limitations, as well as physical distancing between students.
  • Requiring employers to consider alternatives to transporting multiple people in a single vehicle and providing other guidance about reducing risk while sharing vehicles. The rule does not, however, require using multiple vehicles to transport multiple employees.
  • Requiring employers with more than 10 employees – and that have existing ventilation systems – to state in writing that, to the best of their knowledge, they are running their systems in line with requirements. The final rule does not require the purchase or installation of new ventilation systems.
  • Reducing required sanitation measures to reflect the most up-to-date Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
  • Requiring employers to provide written notification to employees of their rights to return to work when employees must quarantine.
  • Requiring health care employers to provide respirators to employees working with known or suspected COVID-19-positive patients, unless such respirators are unavailable.

The final rule also makes clear that the risk assessment, infection control plan, and infection control training completed under the temporary rule do not need to be repeated as a result of the adoption of the final rule.

The division offers resources to help employers and workers understand and apply the requirements. Those resources include consultation services that provide no-cost assistance with safety and health programs and technical staff, who help employers understand requirements.

Meanwhile, the division has also adopted COVID-19 workplace requirements for workers who rely on housing provided by employers, including as part of farming operations. Those requirements were adopted April 30, and will work in tandem with the comprehensive COVID-19 rule by providing specific guidance for situations involving such housing.  

Learn more about the division’s workplace guidance and resources related to COVID-19: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/re/covid-19.aspx

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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/.  

 

Attached Media Files: Oregon OSHA logo , DCBS logo
Four ways to get ready during National Wildfire Preparedness Day this Saturday - 04/28/21

Salem – National Wildfire Preparedness Day is Saturday, May 1, and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has four ways to help you get ready for the 2021 wildfire season.

1 Join Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for a virtual wildfire town hall on Thursday, April 29, at noon.

Watch the live video: http://dcbspage.org/APRIL.DFR.TOWNHALL

2 Complete the division’s three tasks to save time, money, and stress when disaster strikes:

Task 1: Build a home inventory

Task 2: Build a financial backpack

Task 3: Review your insurance coverage

Visit dfr.oregon.gov/preparenow for tips and resources to complete each task. 

3 Do some yard work with a purpose by creating defensible space around your home.

Remove dry leaves, dead brush, debris, and pine needles from the yard and gutters. Next, trim trees away from homes, barns, and sheds, and place screens over open vents on homes. These tasks reduce the fuels that enable wildfires to spread and give firefighters time to slow the blaze.

Visit the National Fire Protection Association’s free toolkit and resources page for more information on creating defensible space around your home.

4 Join a community or neighborhood cleanup project on Saturday, May 1.

Several community groups will be hosting cleanup projects in Oregon and across the country during National Wildfire Preparedness Day this Saturday.

Look for local events on social media and in newsletters and newspapers for opportunities to work with your neighbors to reduce wildfire risk in your community.

Here are few Oregon-based community events:

Oak Knoll Meadows HOA, Ashland

Mountain Ranch HOA, Ashland

Creekside Cottages, Ashland

Skidmore Firewise community, Ashland

Granite Street Firewise community, Ashland

Roca Canyon HOA, Ashland

Radio Park, Sunny Valley

Jefferson County Fire Department, White City

Wallace Creek Firewise Community, Springfield

Odin Falls Ranch and River Springs Estates, Redmond

The division’s wildfire insurance and disaster preparedness pages have resources to help people prepare for and recover from disasters. The division is also prepared to help people in any language they choose. Visit dfr.oregon.gov/help for more information.

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Four ways to get ready during National Wildfire Preparedness Day this Saturday - 04/28/21

Salem – National Wildfire Preparedness Day is Saturday, May 1, and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has four ways to help you get ready for the 2021 wildfire season.

1 Join Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for a virtual wildfire town hall on Thursday, April 29, at noon.

Watch the live video: http://dcbspage.org/APRIL.DFR.TOWNHALL

2 Complete the division’s three tasks to save time, money, and stress when disaster strikes:

Task 1: Build a home inventory

Task 2: Build a financial backpack

Task 3: Review your insurance coverage

Visit dfr.oregon.gov/preparenow for tips and resources to complete each task. 

3 Do some yard work with a purpose by creating defensible space around your home.

Remove dry leaves, dead brush, debris, and pine needles from the yard and gutters. Next, trim trees away from homes, barns, and sheds, and place screens over open vents on homes. These tasks reduce the fuels that enable wildfires to spread and give firefighters time to slow the blaze.

Visit the National Fire Protection Association’s free toolkit and resources page for more information on creating defensible space around your home.

4 Join a community or neighborhood cleanup project on Saturday, May 1.

Several community groups will be hosting cleanup projects in Oregon and across the country during National Wildfire Preparedness Day this Saturday.

Look for local events on social media and in newsletters and newspapers for opportunities to work with your neighbors to reduce wildfire risk in your community.

The division’s wildfire insurance and disaster preparedness pages have resources to help people prepare for and recover from disasters. The division is also prepared to help people in any language they choose. Visit dfr.oregon.gov/help for more information.

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Special Wildfire Town Hall this Thursday - 04/27/21

Salem – Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum will host a statewide virtual wildfire insurance town hall on Thursday, April 29, at noon.

Cleanup is progressing, and the arrival of spring means construction will soon be ramping up for people affected by the Labor Day wildfires.

Stolfi and Rosenblum will be joined by Oregon State University Fire Program Manager Carrie Berger and representatives from the Division of Financial Regulation to discuss insurance claims during the rebuilding process, how to avoid construction scams, and tips to prepare for the 2021 wildfire season.

Event details:

Thursday, April 29, from noon to 12:45 p.m.

Watch the live Zoom video: http://dcbspage.org/APRIL.DFR.TOWNHALL

Call: 253-215-8782

Oregonians can submit questions before the town hall. The panelists will answer as many questions as possible during the event.

The video will be available on the DFR video webpage after the town hall and also on the DFR YouTube channel and DCBS Facebook page.

The division’s wildfire insurance page has resources and contact information to help answer many wildfire insurance questions. The division is also prepared to help people in any language they choose. Visit dfr.oregon.gov/help for more information.

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About DCBS: The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov. 

About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov and http://dfr.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx.

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DCBS logo
Klamath Falls restaurant fined $27,660 for COVID-19 violations, including willfully exposing workers - 04/23/21

(Salem) – Casey’s Restaurant in Klamath Falls continues to fall far short of workplace safety standards designed to protect employees from the coronavirus disease, as more complaints and a public health referral have prompted another formal enforcement action by Oregon OSHA.

The division has cited the restaurant $27,660 following an inspection that found the employer committed four violations of on-the-job safety standards. In one of the infractions, Casey’s Restaurant willfully continued to potentially expose workers to the virus, despite a public health order limiting the capacity of indoor dining to zero in an “extreme risk” county.

It is the second time the business has been cited for failing to take steps to protect workers against the pandemic. In December 2020, Oregon OSHA, following a complaint-based inspection, issued an $8,900 citation to Casey’s Restaurant for willfully allowing on-site dining, despite a public health order meant to curb transmission of the virus.

“Since the pandemic began, we have focused our efforts on engaging and educating employers about expectations. In the vast majority of cases, we have not had to conduct formal enforcement visits, because most employers are choosing to do the right thing,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “They are doing so because they know they are making meaningful contributions as part of a larger and multi-faceted community effort to end this pandemic sooner rather than later.

“Yet, a critical part of Oregon OSHA’s longstanding mission is to enforce workplace health and safety standards,” Wood added. “And we will continue to fulfill that mission when employers refuse to address credible complaints or continue to insist on ignoring reasonable safeguards for their employees.”

The citation issued to Casey’s earlier this month resulted from an inspection prompted by complaints and a referral from Klamath County Public Health.

Oregon OSHA’s inspection documented the fact that the restaurant, operating in Klamath County, willfully began allowing indoor dining on Dec. 17, 2020, and, with the exception of Dec. 25, continued to do so through Feb. 11, 2021.

The business did so despite the fact that Klamath County, during that time period, was designated an “extreme risk” for the spread of COVID-19.

Using his discretionary authority under state law, Wood imposed a $26,700 penalty for the willful violation. That is three times the minimum penalty for such a violation. The decision reflects the need to ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect where employers insist on disregarding health and safety standards.

Such willful behavior puts employees at risk and enables the employer to achieve a competitive advantage over businesses that comply with the requirements.

Altogether, Oregon OSHA cited four violations – three of them under the division’s temporary rule to address COVID-19 risks in the workplace:

  • In allowing indoor dining, Casey’s Restaurant knowingly chose to disregard capacity limitations imposed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for such establishments in a county designated as extreme risk. It was a willful violation, carrying a discretionary penalty of $26,700.
  • The business failed to conduct any COVID-19 risk assessment to identify potential employee exposure to the virus and address how to reduce such exposure. It was a serious violation, carrying a penalty of $490.
  • The business did not develop and implement an infection control plan. Such a plan could include redesigning the workspace to enable physical distancing and reducing the use of shared surfaces and tools. It was a serious violation, carrying a penalty of $350.
  • The employer did not establish and run an effective safety committee. Safety committees enable workers to regularly participate in addressing potential on-the-job hazards, including discussing such concerns with managers. It was a serious violation, carrying a penalty of $120.

Ongoing refusals to correct violations and come into compliance with workplace health and safety standards can lead to additional higher penalties. Meanwhile, if an Oregon OSHA inspection documents violations while a county is at extreme risk, but the county’s risk level drops before the citation is issued, the citation will still be issued. The change in risk levels may affect how the violation needs to be corrected, but not whether it is cited.        

Employers have 30 days to appeal citations. The citation issued to Casey’s Restaurant in December 2020 remains on appeal.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers and workers a variety of consultation, information, and education resources addressing COVID-19.

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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, visit 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.dcbs.oregon.gov.

 

 

Attached Media Files: DCBS logo , Oregon OSHA logo
DCBS logo
DCBS logo
Oregon OSHA fines Lowe's stores in Redmond and Albany more than $35,000 for COVID-19 violations, including willful infractions - 04/19/21

(Salem) – Oregon OSHA has fined Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in Redmond and Albany more than $35,000 for violating standards designed to protect workers from the coronavirus disease. Both sites potentially exposed employees to the disease by willfully failing to ensure that all customers inside the retail stores wore a mask, face covering, or face shield to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The citations, totaling $35,600 in fines, resulted from inspections of the Southwest Canal Boulevard and Ninth Avenue Southeast locations in Redmond and Albany, respectively. The inspections were initiated in response to multiple complaints.

Through employer and employee interviews, and an examination of records, the inspections determined supervisors at the stores were fully aware of the requirement to ensure customer use of facial coverings and yet intentionally decided against carrying out their responsibilities.

The stores’ purposeful infractions illustrate failures to account for reasonable and established measures to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 through customer-to-employee transmission.

“It is not enough to leave the protection of employees in the hands of cooperative customers,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “As most employers recognize, they must take appropriate steps to ensure that the rules in place are actually followed. When an employer is not prepared to take such steps, we can and will use our enforcement tools to address the issue.”

Altogether, the inspections documented three violations of workplace health and safety standards at the Lowe’s in Redmond and one at the store in Albany. The citations and penalties – all issued under Oregon OSHA’s temporary rule addressing COVID-19 risks in the workplace – were as follows:

  • Both stores chose to disregard Oregon Health Authority requirements to ensure customers (older than age 5) who are inside the establishments wore a source control device, such as a mask, face covering, or face shield. Oregon OSHA issued willful citations, each carrying a $17,500 penalty.
  • The Redmond store was also cited for two serious violations. The employer did not develop and implement a complete risk assessment to identify potential employee exposure to the virus. The employer also failed to develop and implement an infection control plan. A penalty of $300 was imposed for each violation.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers and workers a variety of consultation, information, and education resources addressing COVID-19. Those resources include an advisory memo, including best practices, for employer enforcement of facial-covering requirements. It is available in English and Spanish.

Employers have 30 days to appeal citations.

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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, visit 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.dcbs.oregon.gov.

 

 

Attached Media Files: DCBS logo , Oregon OSHA logo