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Safety summit coming to central Oregon in January 2023, offering training opportunities to strengthen protections for workers in the construction industry (Photo) - 12/06/22

Salem – A two-day training conference in central Oregon will put a spotlight on the safety and health of workers in residential, commercial, and industrial construction. The Jan. 30-31 Mid-Oregon Construction Safety Summit will address a variety of topics, including fall protection, silica dust hazards, electrical safety, and emerging safety technologies. 

Attendees will have access to a range of training sessions, including the OSHA 10-hour training for construction, work zone safety and flagging, fire protection, and first aid. Certifications and recertifications will be available. Also, the conference will offer opportunities to earn continuing education credits through Oregon’s Construction Contractors Board and Landscape Contractors Board.

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA), a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, encourages employers and workers to attend the 20th annual Mid-Oregon Construction Safety Summit at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes Conference Center in Bend. Oregon OSHA is one of several partners presenting the summit. Those partners include the nonprofit Central Oregon Safety and Health Association. 

The event’s keynote presentation, “Influencing Safety,” will be delivered by Garrison Wynn, CSP, bestselling author and consultant, who has been featured in Forbes and Inc. magazines and spoken at safety events on five continents. Wynn is known for blending comic timing and deep-dive research to engage and energize a variety of audiences. For 27 years, he has given keynote presentations to such clients as Amazon, Caterpillar, Kiewit, Turner, Berkshire Hathaway, Bank of America, the National Football League, and NASA.

At the safety event in Bend, Wynn’s keynote presentation will address how to develop personal influence to make positive changes happen and how to build trust and relationships that make safety a consistent reality.

“The worst leadership or influence strategy is wishing people were like you,” Wynn said. “Based on age and experience, people can view safety and their role in it very differently. We have to deal with people for who they are, not who we wish they were.”

Wynn said it’s important for him to deliver his messages at the conference in Bend because such conferences “are where I feel people are more open to change.” He added, “It’s not news that almost one-quarter of all work-related fatalities involve construction. My experience is that Oregon leaders know – as the research shows – that workers who feel valuable are more likely to follow procedures and look out for each other.” 

The Mid-Oregon Construction Safety Summit’s other sessions include:

  • Scaffold User Training
  • Employment Law Update and Best Practices
  • Construction A to Z
  • Electrical Safety Basics and More
  • Generations Working Better Together for Safety
  • Hoffman’s Journey in Preventing Serious Injuries and Fatalities
  • Underground Utilities: What You Don’t See Can Hurt You
  • Safety Committee? Safety Meetings? Which One is For You?
  • Construction Suicide Prevention Awareness

Registration for the event’s pre-conference workshops (Monday, Jan. 30) is $60. Conference registration (Tuesday, Jan. 31) is $90. Registration for the OSHA 10-hour training for construction is $140 for both days. The cost of attending the Firestop workshop (Monday, Jan. 30) – an overview of passive fire protection construction in commercial buildings – is $30. To register, go to safetyseries.cventevents.com/summit23.

For more information, contact the Oregon OSHA Conference Section, 503-947-7411 or oregon.conferences@dcbs.oregon.gov. More information about the safety summit in Bend, including a save-the-date flyer, is available online. For information about other upcoming safety conferences, visit Oregon OSHA’s online conferences page.

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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: Conference flyer , DCBS logo , Oregon OSHA logo
Insurance tips for freezing temperatures, snowstorms - 12/01/22

SALEM – The weather is turning cold and with that comes the chance of ice and snow. 

Winter weather can lead to damage due to falling trees or limbs, burst pipes, ice dams on your roof, cracks in your home’s foundation, car crashes, and more. Some of these losses may be covered by your insurance policy and others may not. 

Before your home, vehicle, or possessions are damaged by storms and winter weather, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recommends calling your insurance company or agent to make sure you have the right types and amounts of coverage.

You can also take actions to help prevent losses from occurring in the first place. You can:

  • Inspect and maintain your foundation, gutters, and roof
  • Insulate and maintain water pipes
  • Monitor tree health and trim them as needed
  • Prepare your vehicle for winter driving

If your home or vehicle is damaged in a storm, call your insurance company or agent to ask about your policy coverages, exclusions, and deductibles before filing a claim.

Before filing a claim, it is important to know if the amount of your loss is worth the effect filing a claim can have on your premium rates. It may be better to handle repairs yourself, if the loss is less than or close to your deductible.

Homeowners

A typical homeowners policy covers damage to the home caused by falling trees or limbs and weight of ice and snow. If your home received minor damage, such as the wind blowing a few shingles off your house, your homeowners insurance will probably replace the damaged shingles, but not the entire roof.

Winter storms can also create sudden damage caused by an ice dam on the roof or pipes bursting due to freezing. This type of damage is typically covered, and can be extensive – if a pipe burst floods a home – or minor, such as a leak from an ice dam causing a stain on a ceiling.

If your home sustained severe structural damage from a fallen tree or other storm debris, and it is deemed uninhabitable, and your policy has additional living expenses coverage, it can help cover the extra costs of lodging, meals, and even pet boarding while you are unable to live in the home. Those who have renters insurance can also take advantage of this policy coverage.

If your home lost power and received only minor damage, it will probably still be considered safe to live in, so additional living expenses may not apply. Check with your insurance agent or provider to confirm your coverage.

Coverage may be available for food spoilage due to a power outage. If you need to file a claim for another type of damage to your home, food spoilage can typically be added to the claim you need to file for repairs.

Auto

There are three coverage options on an auto insurance policy that typically apply to winter storms:

  • Comprehensive covers damage caused by falling trees or limbs. This includes while your vehicle is parked inside a garage. Homeowners insurance excludes coverage for vehicles, even while parked inside your garage. 
  • Collision covers damage to your vehicle that occurs while driving. This includes hitting storm debris or sliding on ice.
  • Liability covers damage you accidentally caused to another person's property or to a person who is injured in an accident.

Once again, if the cost to repair your vehicle is less than or close to your deductible, you may not want to file a claim.

Remember, you want to make sure you have the right types and amounts of coverage and take steps to reduce your risks. Check with your insurance agent or company to determine your policy coverages, exclusions, and deductibles. 

If you still have questions or concerns, the division's consumer advocates are here to help. You can contact the division's advocates three ways:

Visit the division's storm insurance resource page for more information.

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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 dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.

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Oregon OSHA fines mattress retailer in Hillsboro more than $66,000, including for willfully exposing workers to vehicle safety hazards (Photo) - 11/29/22

Salem – Oregon OSHA has fined Mattress Megastore in Hillsboro more than $66,000 for multiple workplace safety violations, including willfully exposing employees to serious injury or death from potential traffic accidents.

The penalties followed an inspection launched by the division in response to a confidentially filed complaint. The inspection found the employer repeatedly and knowingly exposed employees to potential traffic accidents by requiring them to operate a one-ton box delivery truck that was clearly unsafe.

The truck had no working windshield wipers. Yet, the employer insisted employees use it for deliveries during rainstorms, according to Oregon OSHA’s inspection. The truck had two large cracks in the windshield, obscuring the driver’s line of sight. Still, the employer required employees to use the vehicle for deliveries. Moreover, the driver’s side seatbelt of the same vehicle failed to work.

“Driving is just as important as any other facet of workplace safety,” said Renee Stapleton, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Taking it for granted only increases the risk of harm to employees. To knowingly neglect vehicle safety is inexcusable.”

In addition to making no effort to protect workers from hazards that were plain to see, Mattress Megastore threatened employees with termination if deliveries weren’t completed using the unsafe truck, according to Oregon OSHA’s inspection. A referral was made to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which enforces the anti-retaliation provisions of the Oregon Safe Employment Act.

The willful violation – carrying a $65,000 penalty – went against an Oregon OSHA requirement that forbids employers from allowing employees to drive or ride in any vehicle known to be unsafe. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional or purposeful disregard for the requirements of the Oregon Safe Employment Act or a plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Since 2013, Oregon has seen an average of 636 accepted disabling workers’ compensation claims per year for motor vehicle accidents. Meanwhile, the state averages about 51,000 traffic crashes per year, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The citation issued to Mattress Megastore included serious violations of other workplace safety requirements, with a total penalty of $66,960. The other violations were as follows: 

  • A warehouse emergency exit route was blocked by merchandise, exposing employees to the potential hazard of not being able to leave the building safely. Penalty: $120.
  • No safety committee or safety meetings were established or held, leaving employees exposed to potential hazards because safety and health concerns were not being actively discussed or identified. Penalty: $860.
  • Areas in front of electrical cabinets were not kept free and clear of stored material, exposing employees to potential hazards associated with blocked electrical panels. Penalty: $120.
  • Heat illness prevention training was not provided to employees; no acclimatization plan was developed or implemented to gradually adapt employees to working in hot weather; the emergency medical plan did not address potential employee exposure to excessive heat; and no heat illness prevention plan was developed and maintained in writing. Penalty: $860. 

The citation included a standard penalty reduction based on the small size of the company. Employers have 30 calendar days after receiving a citation to file an appeal. 

Workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace, including the right to raise safety concerns free of retaliation. In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers free resources to help improve workplace safety and health. These resources include:

  • Free Oregon OSHA consultations for employers to improve workplace safety and health programs – no fault, no citations, no penalties.
  • Free help from Oregon OSHA technical specialists with understanding rules and how to apply them.
  • An A-to-Z topic page about vehicle safety, including a transportation, employees, and materials checklist, a fact sheet about motor vehicle safety for employers and employees, and a vehicle safety sample program for small businesses.
  • Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Multicultural Communications Program, providing outreach to communities with limited English proficiency. Toll-free number: 800-843-8086.
  • Ombuds Office for Oregon Workers for help understanding workplace safety and health rights, and workers’ compensation rights. Toll-free number: 800-927-1271.

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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: DCBS logo , Oregon OSHA logo
DFR advises residents to be informed and cautious when investing in crypto platforms - 11/22/22

SALEM – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) reminds Oregon investors to diversify investments and be informed of the risks in investing in largely unregulated products such as cryptocurrency.   

Some of these financial product offerings are registered and licensed with DFR as money transmitters or securities offerings. The division has investigated several cryptocurrency companies and continues to monitor the market.

“It is important to know the risks involved with cryptocurrency or any investment opportunities,” said TK Keen, administrator for DFR. “No investment opportunities are risk free, and you should always do your homework on where you are sending your money. This is especially true when cryptocurrency is involved.”

The recent news of the bankruptcy of FTX, the third largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, which left approximately 1 million customers and investors facing total losses in the billions, should serve as a warning to anyone investing in cryptocurrency. 

“Investing in cryptocurrency is extremely risky given what’s going on right now,” Keen said. “It’s important to not invest more than you can afford to lose or put all of your assets in one bucket.”

Cryptocurrency accounts are not generally insured by the FDIC, which recently issued a fact sheet clarifying when an account is considered insured.

DFR encourages Oregonians to follow these tips when it comes to digital currency and nonfungible tokens (NFTs), which are often linked to digital works of art, photos, or videos:

  • Carefully research these types of investments. Many of these “investment opportunities” are speculative in nature. Before engaging in a transaction, make sure that you understand what you are purchasing, the value of the item purchased, the reason for the valuation, and how easy it is to sell the investment if you want to get out your money.
  • Use a digital currency exchange that is licensed with the state to transmit cryptocurrency to someone else. Oregon law requires companies that transfer digital currency from one person to another to be licensed as money transmitters. Digital currency exchange companies that purchase or sell cryptocurrency from their own inventories are not required to be licensed.
  • Do not spend money you need. The volatility of the digital currency and NFT markets means that you should not purchase cryptocurrency with money that is needed for essential purposes such as food, housing, and gas.

The division originally put out a press release on Jan. 20 warning of the risks of these types of investments.

Anyone who has questions about these platforms or believes they may have been defrauded, should contact the division’s advocates at 866-814-9710 (toll-free).

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 dfr.oregon.gov and www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

Oregon announces findings of biennial workers' compensation study - 11/22/22

Nov. 22, 2022

Salem – Oregon’s workers’ compensation rates remain among the lowest in the nation, according to an analysis released today by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). This reflects the state’s ongoing success in making workplaces safer and keeping costs under control.

The biennial study ranks all 50 states and Washington, D.C., based on premium rates that were in effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Oregon had the 10th least expensive rates in 2022. Oregon fell in the rankings by four spots from the 2020 survey, despite having a lower premium index rate, because rates in other states dropped a few pennies more. Oregon’s index rate is 93 cents per $100 of payroll, down from $1.00 from 2020. 

DCBS announced in September that Oregon workers’ compensation rates would decline further – an average 3.2 percent – in 2023. Workers’ compensation pays injured workers for lost wages and medical care for job-related injuries.

In recent years, rates have dropped all over the country, which has led to a compression of the scores in the survey. The premium index rates are bunched up at the low end, so that small changes in the index rates can lead to big jumps in the ranking.

In 2020, Oregon was sixth least expensive. In 2022, that spot is held by Kentucky. However, there is just a 7-cent difference per $100 of payroll between the two (93 cents for Oregon and 86 cents for Kentucky).

“This study is an important tool for the workers’ compensation systems throughout the U.S.,” said DCBS Director Andrew Stolfi. “It shows how strong the Oregon workers’ compensation system has become since the survey’s inception in 1986. As an agency, we work hard to keep workplace injuries low and benefits robust and are glad to see insurance costs for employers continue to fall.”

The study shows New Jersey had the most expensive rates, followed by Hawaii and California. Meanwhile, North Dakota had the least expensive rates. In the Northwest, Washington’s rates were the 24th most expensive and Idaho was the 16th most expensive.

Oregon researchers also compared each state’s rates to the national median (the 26th ranked state) rate of $1.27 per $100 of payroll. Oregon’s rate of 93 cents is 73 percent of the median, its second-lowest recorded level.

To produce a valid comparison of states, which have various mixes of industries, the study calculates rates for each state using the same mix of the 50 industries with the highest workers’ compensation claims costs in Oregon.

Oregon has conducted these studies in even-numbered years since 1986, when Oregon’s rates were among the highest in the nation. The department reports the results to the Oregon Legislature as a performance measure. Oregon’s relatively low rate today underscores the success of the state’s workers’ compensation system reforms and its improvements in workplace safety and health.

Oregon has long taken a comprehensive approach to making workplaces safer, keeping business costs low, and providing strong worker benefits. This approach includes enforcing requirements that employers carry insurance for their workers, keeping medical costs under control, and helping injured workers return to work sooner and minimize the impact on their wages.

It also includes efforts to prevent on-the-job injuries by enforcing workplace safety and health rules and advising employers about how to improve worker safety and health.

The study can be found at https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/reports/Documents/general/prem-rpt/22-2083.pdf.

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The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest consumer protection and business regulatory agency. Visit dcbs.oregon.gov. 

Annual hearing on prescription drug prices set for Dec. 1 via Zoom - 11/14/22

SALEM – The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services will be hosting a public hearing on prescription drug prices on Thursday, Dec. 1, from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. via Zoom. 

There are a couple ways you can participate. 

Share your stories. The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services is asking for the public's help before the 2022 public hearing on prescription drug prices. The department has set up a brief survey for consumers to share their stories about rising prescription drug prices. Drug prices play a major role in health care decisions of Oregonians, and the cost of prescription drugs have steadily increased. The department wants to hear your stories about the increase in prescription drugs and how it has affected you and your family. You are encouraged to report on price increases you have experienced. You can find previous testimonials here.

Attend the hearing. The department is hosting the public hearing via Zoom. There will be opportunities for public comment, and Oregon legislators will serve as moderators for panel presentations. We encourage you to testify at the hearing or provide written testimony. Those who want more information about the hearing should contact the department at rx.prices@dcbs.oregon.gov.

Some of the topics this year will include insulin prices, pharmaceutical supply chain, and PBM rebate transparency. You can find more information about the hearing here.

The Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act (ORS 646A.689) directed the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services to establish a transparency program to accept reports and disclose certain information from prescription drug manufacturers, health insurance carriers, and consumers on drug prices.

The goal of the program is to provide accountability for prescription drug pricing through the notice and disclosure of specific drug costs and price information from pharmaceutical manufacturers, health insurers, and consumers.

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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 dfr.oregon.gov.​​

The number of households with bank and credit union accounts continues to rise in Oregon - 11/10/22

SALEM – The number of unbanked households in Oregon dropped from 3.8 percent in 2019 to just 1.8 percent in 2021, according to a study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This is significant for many Oregonians because it means they can avoid paying for expensive alternative financial services such as money orders, check cashing, and pre-paid cards.

Those costs can add up to thousands of dollars over a consumer’s lifetime. 

Nationally, over 95 percent of U.S. households had some sort of banking account in 2021. If a household is banked it means at least one member has a savings or checking account at a bank or credit union.

“One of the challenges facing the unbanked is all of the fees you have to pay to access your money,” said TK Keen, administrator of the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation at the Department of Business and Consumer Services. “While the individual cost may seem minor, having to buy several different financial products to pay rent, utilities, and other monthly expenses starts to add up and eats into your monthly budget. I am pleased to see that our financial institutions continue to help us make headway in getting consumers accounts, and in turn, reducing fees that consumers pay in their daily lives.”

Despite this improvement, Black, Indigenous, and Latino communities, as well as people experiencing a disability, are much more likely to be unbanked. Only 2.1 percent of White households are unbanked in the U.S. In contrast, 9.3 percent of Latino households and 11.3 percent of Black households are unbanked. The Bank On movement is working to address this disparity.

“It is important to get as many people as possible banked,” Keen said. “Relationships with our financial institutions come in handy for other financial services people need, such as a loan to buy a car, a mortgage to buy a home, and emergency loans for unexpected expenses that come up.”

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation is a member of the Bank On Oregon Coalition, a group of financial institutions, community organizations, and government agencies committed to carrying out the Bank On nationwide mission to reduce barriers to banking access by coordinating with financial institutions to make safe, low-cost bank accounts more readily available to consumers. Currently, 15 different institutions, including many state-chartered institutions, offer Bank On certified accounts in Oregon.

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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 dfr.oregon.gov.​​