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Oregon OSHA cites Madras facility for safety violations following accident (Photo) - 02/25/20

(Salem) – Oregon OSHA has cited Mid-Columbia Lumber Products for six violations of job safety rules – half of them repeat offenses – in connection with an accident investigation of the company’s worksite in Madras.

In one violation, the company, which manufactures framing lumber, exposed workers to serious harm or death by not controlling the hazards involved in maintaining a powered machine – an outfeed conveyor. In another, the company subjected workers to the dangers of getting caught in an unguarded rotating sprocket.

The hazardous energy violation – a failure to use lock out and tag out procedures to isolate a machine from its power source – is the second such violation committed by Mid-Columbia Lumber Products since 2016. Likewise, the unguarded machine violation was a repeat of the company’s carelessness in 2017.

“There is simply no reason to expose workers to hazards that we have long known how to control or eliminate,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “To repeatedly violate safety standards – standards that exist to protect people from harm – is the height of recklessness.”

Oregon OSHA opened an investigation of Mid-Columbia Lumber Products in September 2019, after an accident in which a worker attempted to put a moving chain back on the track of a moulder outfeed chain conveyor while it was still operating.

The worker’s left hand was dragged into the machine’s rotating sprocket. The worker’s injuries resulted in an amputated ring finger, an amputated pinky fingertip, and pins installed in the crushed middle and pointer fingers.

Under Oregon OSHA rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat violations. The citation against Mid-Columbia Lumber Products carries a total proposed penalty of $8,610. The fine amount includes a standard penalty reduction based on the company’s size.

Altogether, Oregon OSHA cited the company for the following violations:

  • Failing to maintain an effective centralized safety committee, which employers with multiple locations may use. This serious violation included not having a written safety and health policy; not posting safety committee minutes; not training committee members on hazard identification; and not conducting quarterly inspections.
  • Failing to conduct periodic inspections to ensure energy control procedures were being followed. This was a serious violation.
  • Failing to develop, document, and use procedures to control potentially hazardous energy when employees are doing service or maintenance work on a powered machine. This was as repeat violation.
  • Failing to provide machine guarding to protect employees from hazards created by point of operation, nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. This was a repeat violation.  
  • Failing to train employees in the safe application, use, and removal of energy control devices. This was a repeat violation.
  • Failing to maintain and produce documents related to recording workplace injuries and illnesses. This was an other-than-serious violation.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health.

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: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/maps.aspx

Email: consult.web@oregon.gov

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: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/Contact-Technical.aspx

Learn about the control of hazardous energy by visiting Oregon OSHA’s A-to-Z topic page: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/topics/control-of-hazardous-energy.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, visit www.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.

 

Site after explosion
Site after explosion
Oregon OSHA cites Albany foundry for safety violations in 2019 explosion (Photo) - 02/19/20

(Salem) – Oregon OSHA has fined an Albany foundry $27,500 for violating job safety rules designed to protect workers from serious harm or death. The citation against Selmet Inc. follows an investigation of a furnace explosion that injured two workers, one of whom suffered second- and third-degree burns to his body.

The division’s investigation of the Aug. 15, 2019, accident identified three serious violations by Selmet. Those violations included failing to account for employee safety in the layout and design of the foundry, and overlooking proper work clothing and equipment.

“There are concrete steps employers can take to make safety a meaningful part of the operation of a work site,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Neglecting such steps, as this case demonstrates, serves only to invite more risk and the severe consequences that frequently come with it.”

The worker who suffered severe burns was operating a furnace – powered by high-voltage electricity – to melt titanium. He was doing so in a part of the foundry that contains older furnaces and where employees use control panels that are near each furnace. The furnace experienced a system failure that leaked water used for cooling into a vacuum chamber. The reaction of molten titanium with water triggered the explosion. 

The blast, which blew the roof off part of the building, left the worker with multiple burns to his head, neck, arms, and chest. The force of the blast threw another worker, stationed at the operating panel of another furnace, into a parts table.

Oregon OSHA cited Selmet for failing to account for safety measures in the design, layout, and operation of the older furnaces. Such measures could include blast walls to protect against explosions, isolated control rooms, or removal of employees from the risk zone during operations. The company had installed such measures for newer furnaces, according to Oregon OSHA’s investigation.

That serious violation carries a $13,750 penalty. Oregon OSHA also fined Selmet $13,750 for two related serious violations involving a lack of appropriate work clothing and personal protective equipment for furnace operators.

The total proposed fine of $27,500 reflects a 10 percent increase in the base penalties assigned to the violations. The increase reflects Selmet’s negative history of nine reportable accidents in the last three years.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health.

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: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/maps.aspx

Email: consult.web@oregon.gov

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: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/Contact-Technical.aspx

Visit Oregon OSHA’s A-to-Z topic page for more information about on-the-job safety and health: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/az-index.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, visit www.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: Site after explosion
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Corvallis company earns safety, health recognition (Photo) - 02/14/20

(Salem) – Valliscor LLC, a chemical manufacturing firm in Corvallis, has stepped up its commitment to on-the-job safety and health by completing its first year in Oregon OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

SHARP, primarily set up to help small- and mid-sized businesses, coaches companies on how to effectively manage workplace safety and health. It empowers employers to continuously improve. In turn, companies are recognized for their success in reaching specific benchmarks. An employer becomes a graduate when it completes five years of SHARP.

Valliscor is known for its innovation, so it’s no surprise it embraced SHARP. Located within the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Institute, Valliscor is an Oregon State University-licensed spinoff company. Its unique process allows customers in the pharmaceutical, agricultural, polymer, and electronics industries to easily add fluorine to other molecules.

In joining SHARP, Valliscor assessed and tackled a variety of safety and health issues. Pedro Molina Sanchez, safety and regulatory affairs lead for the company, said the process was “extremely valuable” in helping improve “almost every aspect of our health and safety practices and policies.”

Noting the “expertise and extensive support” of Oregon OSHA consultants, Sanchez said SHARP “accelerated our transition from a reactive to a proactive approach” to workplace safety and health. That includes increasing the company’s capacity “to identify, analyze, and communicate hazards derived from our operations more efficiently,” Sanchez said.

SHARP encourages Oregon employers to work with their employees to identify and correct hazards, and develop and implement effective safety and health programs. The benefits of the program, which is part of Oregon OSHA’s consultation services, include lower injury and illness rates, decreased workers’ compensation costs, increased employee morale, and lower product losses.

Oregon employers that have been in business for more than one year are eligible to apply for SHARP. Get more information about the program. Lean more about Oregon OSHA's no-cost consultation services.  

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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 www.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.

 

 

Accident photo
Accident photo
Oregon OSHA faults, fines companies in fatal accident at site of music festival (Photo) - 02/12/20

(Salem) – Oregon OSHA has issued $31,000 in fines against two companies for safety violations following an investigation of a boom lift accident that killed two workers at the site of the Pickathon Music Festival in Happy Valley.

The division’s investigation of the Aug. 8, 2019, accident found Pickathon LLC and GuildWorks LLC – a subcontractor to Pickathon LLC – failed to follow safety rules governing the operation of a boom lift. Those rules included keeping safety alarm devices activated and heeding the manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions for the machine.

“It is an employer’s responsibility to make sure that safety rules are followed for the very purpose of protecting workers from such tragedies,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “This is a time to pause and remember that two people died, leaving behind family and friends. And it is a time to remind ourselves that this accident was entirely preventable.”

The two workers – positioned in the platform of a boom lift raised about 40 feet high – were performing tasks after the music festival had ended. They were dismantling event-related hardware and ropes attached to trees when the boom lift tipped over, crashing to the ground and killing them.  

Oregon OSHA cited both Pickathon and GuildWorks for a serious violation because two alarm devices on the boom lift had been disabled. One device would sound an alarm warning against operating the machine on uneven terrain. The other device would stop the upward motion of the platform if an employee became pinned between an overhead obstruction and the platform’s railing and controls.

That serious violation carries a $12,500 penalty for each of the companies.

Additionally, Oregon OSHA fined GuildWorks $6,000 for another serious violation: failing to follow the boom lift manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions.

Those instructions included not raising the boom while on an uneven surface; maintaining a firm footing on the platform’s floor at all times; not moving the machine while the boom was extended and while the machine was stationed on a sloped surface; and not putting the boom in a raised position while the counterweight – which acts as a balance – is located on the downward side of a slope.

Using its discretionary penalty authority, Oregon OSHA determined that the companies will not receive the normal reduction in the penalty granted to small employers. This decision is based on the particular facts uncovered by the division’s investigation, which revealed a history of failing to follow proper safety procedures.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health.

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: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/maps.aspx

Email: consult.web@oregon.gov

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: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/Contact-Technical.aspx

Visit Oregon OSHA’s A-to-Z topic page for more information about on-the-job safety and health: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/az-index.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, visit www.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: Accident photo
Pic of lion sculpture used in scam
Pic of lion sculpture used in scam
80-year-old Oregon man swindled out of $200,000 in elaborate romance scam (Photo) - 02/11/20

Salem – Valentine’s Day is almost here, love is in the air, and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation warns, don’t get catfished.

Recently, an 80-year-old widower was catfished out of $200,000. The unidentified fraudster stole a Florida woman’s identity to befriend the Oregonian through an online dating service and persuaded him to send money for a business opportunity.

Over several months, the con artist convinced the elderly man that they were in a long-distance romantic relationship, and proposed an opportunity to support an art gallery in Florida.

The scammer pretended to seek investors to cover $5 million in transportation costs to ship a 500-ton marble lion sculpture from China. The con artist promised that investments would be returned plus a percentage of the profits from the sale of the sculpture.

The widower even received fabricated documents detailing the contract with the museum and bank statements. Relying on the documents and his romantic relationship, the victim made a series of payments over five months to various individuals and overseas bank accounts totaling more than $200,000. 

The widower lost his entire investment and investigators have been unable to locate the scammer.

“Romance scams typically target older individuals, gain their trust, then ask for money through social media and dating websites,” said Andrew Stolfi, division administrator. “Unfortunately, victims often wire funds overseas or to third-party transfer agents, making it difficult to track the money and identify the con artist.”

The division encourages consumers to do their homework before making any investment. Protect yourself from getting catfished or falling for an investment scam by following these tips:

  • Do not send money to anyone you have not met in person, and be cautious about sharing personal or financial information.
  • Do not transfer money to unknown people or intermediaries. If you need to use a third party to send money, use a licensed money transmitter.
  • Keep copies of all communications with scammers and report them to the division, the online dating site, the local police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information and tips about investing, visit dfr.oregon.gov/financial/investments. Consumers can also contact the division’s advocates at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) to ask questions, file complaints, or check the license of a company or advisor.

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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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Event in Eugene puts spotlight on workplace safety, health (Photo) - 02/06/20

(Salem) – One of the obstacles to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace is complacency. A two-day conference in Eugene will help you knock down that obstacle, offering a variety of opportunities to renew your commitment to on-the-job safety, and to forge new relationships with workplace safety and health advocates.

The Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) is one of several partners presenting the 19th biennial Cascade Occupational Safety and Health Conference, to be held March 2-3 at the Graduate Eugene Hotel, 66 E. 6th Ave. The conference will address everything from assessing risk and identifying hazards to managing change and resolving conflicts.

On Monday, March 2, keynote speaker Allison Clarke, of Allison Clarke Consulting, will present “7 Seconds That Change Your Life: Communication and Listening Skills.” Clarke is an expert in leadership and influence. She has more than 20 years of experience in corporate training.

During her presentation, Clarke will show people how to increase their confidence when they communicate; become more aware of how their body language, tone of voice, and words connect with others; and how to listen in a way that builds trust.

Building such skills helps create safer and more productive workplaces, Clarke said. “We will focus on how to maximize the human side for accelerated business results,” she said. “This reduces stress, increases productivity, and affects the bottom line.”

Other conference topics include:

  • Safety committee basics
  • New safety program tips
  • Walking working surfaces and fall protection
  • Human resources: legal updates
  • Wellness and Total Worker Health
  • Respiratory protection
  • Navigating Oregon OSHA regulations and resources
  • Workplace leadership

The conference is a joint effort of the Cascade Chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and Oregon OSHA, in cooperation with the Lane County Human Resource Association.

The registration fee for both days is $250, or $125 for single-day attendance. For more information or to register, go to http://safetyseries.cvent.com/cascade20.  

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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 www.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.

 

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Public charge ruling will not affect Oregonians receiving a marketplace health insurance subsidy (Photo) - 01/30/20

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule, which can make it more difficult for immigrants to receive green cards, does not apply to the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace.

“You don’t need to give up your coverage,’” said Chiqui Flowers, Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace administrator. The Marketplace is a state-level partner to HealthCare.gov that helps people who don’t have health insurance through work or other programs purchase insurance, in many cases with a subsidy. 

“For the more than 100,000 Oregonians who signed up for 2020 coverage during the open enrollment period through HealthCare.gov, their tax credits that help lower their monthly premiums are not affected by the public charge rule,” she said.

A ruling by the Supreme Court on Monday lifted an injunction on the public charge rule. If someone is determined to be a public charge, it is more difficult to get a green card. The new rule expands the benefits that may be considered in determining a public charge.  

The public charge rule was expanded to include benefits such as food stamps; Medicaid-funded long-term care; Section 8 rental assistance and subsidized housing; non-emergency Oregon Health Plan (i.e., Medicaid) coverage for non-pregnant adults 21 and older; and federal, state, or local cash assistance programs.


“This may be confusing for some Oregonians. We want to make sure that they don’t give up their health insurance in this confusion,” Flowers said. “Applying for coverage and using tax credits are not included in the public charge rule.”


For 2020, eligible Oregonians received at least $450 in tax credits every month to apply towards their monthly premiums.


“Helping Oregonians find affordable insurance helps them live better, healthier lives and it benefits Oregon in cost savings and more efficient use of resources. Confusion about this issue could be harmful on many levels,” said Flowers.  
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The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace helps Oregonians get coverage and financial assistance through HealthCare.gov. It is a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov.

About DCBS: The Oregon 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. Follow DCBS on Twitter: twitter.com/OregonDCBS. Receive consumer help and information on insurance, mortgages, investments, workplace safety, and more.