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Grants Pass company fined $86,149 for job safety violations, including repeatedly exposing workers to fall hazards (Photo) - 06/13/24

Salem – The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) has fined a Grants Pass roofing company $86,149 for workplace safety violations, including repeatedly failing to safeguard workers from fall hazards that could seriously injure or kill them.

The division cited GB Roofing LLC following an inspection of a job site in Eugene where work was being done to replace the roof on a retirement home. The inspection was conducted under Oregon OSHA's prevention-based emphasis program addressing workers exposed to fall hazards.

Employees were working on the roof without fall protection, according to the inspection. They were exposed to a potential fall of about 20 feet to the ground. GB Roofing had violated a rule requiring employers to ensure that fall protection systems are provided, installed, and implemented where employees are exposed to a hazard of falling six feet or more to a lower level.

This was the third time since May 2022 that GB Roofing violated fall protection requirements. Oregon OSHA issued a penalty of $84,996 for the third-repeat violation.

Under the Oregon Safe Employment Act, workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace, and employers must maintain safe and healthy workplaces.

In the construction industry, falls are one of the leading causes of death.

“Employers must provide fall protection to employees who are working at heights,” said Renée Stapleton, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Providing such protective systems is not an option. It is an essential requirement for keeping workers safe while getting the job done. To repeatedly fail to address the safety of workers first serves only one purpose: to further increase the risk of injury or even death.”

GB Roofing was also cited for failing to provide eye protection to employees who were exposed to flying particles from the use of pneumatic staplers. It was a serious violation carrying a penalty of $1,153.

During the inspection, the company corrected the violations identified by Oregon OSHA.

The total penalty issued against GB Roofing included a standard penalty reduction based on the small size of the company. Under Oregon OSHA’s rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat offenses.

Employers have 30 calendar days after receiving a citation to file an appeal.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers free resources to help improve workplace safety and health. These resources include the division's Fall Protection Suite of online video training courses and its A-to-Z topic page about fall protectionThe Fall Protection Suite includes courses addressing fall protection fundamentalsconstructionroofingand ladder safety.

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 enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. The division is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest consumer protection and business regulatory agency. Visit osha.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.

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June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (Photo) - 06/13/24

Salem – In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) is asking people to be on the lookout for the financial exploitation of seniors. The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization launched recognition of the day in 2006 to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older people.

Financial abuse can happen to anyone at any time, but seniors are often the target, especially those who live alone or are isolated. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, social isolation, loneliness, and elder maltreatment make seniors an easy target for scammers.

According to the National Council on Aging, approximately one in 10 Americans ages 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million seniors who are abused each year. The Southern California Center for Elder Justice estimates that financial elder abuse losses are between $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion each year.

Scammers use several tactics to gain trust from seniors to steal their finances. Unfortunately, some of these offenders are the guardians who are responsible for acting in the person’s best interest. Guardians are often a person the senior trusts and is granted control of the person’s assets. Financial abuse or exploitation often occurs when the guardian improperly uses the financial resources of a senior.

“We need to look out for each other, especially our senior population. To do that, people need to be informed and on high alert for financial fraud,” said TK Keen, administrator for DFR. “I encourage friends and loved ones to help their older family members spot scams. Technology allows bad actors to be a constant threat, which is all the more reason to be on alert for potential financial fraud impacting our loved ones.”

Senior financial exploitation can be difficult to identify. Here are six examples to watch for:

  • A new and overly protective friend or caregiver, especially if the senior is considering surrendering financial control to the person.
  • Fear of someone or a sudden change in feelings about them.
  • A lack of knowledge about financial status or reluctance to discuss financial matters.
  • Sudden or unexplained changes in spending habits, a will, trust, or beneficiary designation.
  • Unexplained checks made out to cash, unexplained loans, or unexplained disappearance of assets (cash, valuables, securities, etc.).
  • Suspicious signatures on the senior’s checks or other documents.

If you believe someone is being financially abused, call Oregon’s toll-free abuse reporting hotline at 855-503-SAFE (7233). You can also visit the division’s protect yourself from fraud website for resources to prevent, report, and recover from financial abuse.

Oregon’s Senior Safe Act makes securities industry professionals mandatory reporters for suspected elder financial exploitation. Securities professionals, such as broker-dealers and investment advisors, should use DFR’s file a suspected financial abuse report webpage when they suspect potential financial abuse of an Oregon senior.

DFR’s consumer advocates are always there to help with questions or to file a complaint. You can reach them at 1-888-4894 (toll-free) or email dfr.financialserviceshelp@dcbs.oregon.gov

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About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation protects consumers and regulates insurance, depository institutions, trust companies, securities, and consumer financial products and services. The division is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest consumer protection and business regulatory agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.

Attached Media Files: DFR-logo-blue.jpg
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Drivers encouraged to review auto coverage, practice safe driving habits (Photo) - 06/11/24

Salem – Summertime usually means vacations and road trips. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR), now is a good time for a little planning and some safety checks that might spare you from dealing with the consequences of a breakdown – or worse, a highway crash. 

DFR reminds Oregonians of safe driving tips and to check with your insurance agent or company to review your insurance policies. With changes in driving patterns and potential risks during the summer, it is crucial for drivers to understand policy limits and coverages. DFR encourages drivers to have a conversation with their agent or insurance company to explore coverage options and ensure policies are up to date.

Also, it is a good time to ensure vehicles are in good working order by reviewing the following:

Air conditioning: As the temperature rises, your A/C works harder to keep your vehicle cool. Check A/C performance before traveling and don’t forget to check your cabin air filter. A lack of air conditioning on a hot summer day affects everyone and is particularly dangerous for people in poor health or who are sensitive to heat, such as children and older adults.

Belts and hoses: To ensure safe and uninterrupted travel, drivers should regularly inspect their vehicle's belts and hoses. High summer temperatures accelerate the rate at which rubber belts and hoses degrade. Look under the hood and inspect all belts and hoses to make sure there are no signs of bulges, blisters, cracks, or cuts in the rubber. It’s best to replace them now if they show signs of obvious wear. Also, make sure all hose connections are secure.

Tires: Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure, which is listed in your owner’s manual and on a placard located on the driver’s door pillar or door frame, and don’t forget to check your spare if your vehicle is equipped with one. To get an accurate reading, check pressure when tires are cold, meaning they have not been driven on for at least three hours. Do not inflate your tires to the pressure listed on the tire itself – that number is the maximum pressure the tire can hold, not the recommended pressure for your vehicle. A tire doesn’t have to be punctured to lose air. All tires naturally lose some air over time. In fact, underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure.

Some other tips: 

  • Inspect your tires at least once a month and before long road trips. 
  • Look closely at your tread and replace tires that have uneven wear or insufficient tread. 
  • Tread should be at least 2/32 of an inch or more on all tires. Look for the built-in wear bar indicators or use the penny test to determine when it is time to replace your tires. Place a penny in the tread with Lincoln's head upside down. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, your vehicle may need new tires.
  • If you find uneven wear across the tires’ tread, it means your tires need to be rotated, your wheels need to be aligned, or both before you travel. 
  • Check each tire’s age. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing tires every six years, regardless of use.
  • Since electric vehicles are typically heavier than gas-powered vehicles, they require EV-specific tires to bear the weight and maximize performance and electric range, all while minimizing tire noise. Whether the vehicle is gas-powered, electric-powered, or a hybrid, all tires require similar maintenance. Low-rolling-resistance tires for conventional vehicles could also have lower tread life. 

An inspection is not just about checking tire pressure and age. Remember to check: 

  • For any damage or conditions that may need attention.
  • The tread and sidewalls for any cuts, punctures, bulges, scrapes, cracks, or bumps.
  • Your spare tire and car jack kit. 
  • If you find tire damage, take your vehicle to a tire professional. 

Essential vehicle components: Regular maintenance of essential vehicle components is vital to ensure a safe and reliable driving experience. Drivers should regularly check vehicle fluid levels, including engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Also, inspect the cooling system, batteries, and wiper blades to avoid potential breakdowns and maintain clear visibility. It is important to make sure your headlines, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and interior lights are all in working order as well.

Essential supplies: In preparation for long journeys or unexpected situations, it is essential for drivers to stock their vehicle with necessary supplies. DFR suggests including items such as a first-aid kit, flashlight, extra water, nonperishable snacks, a roadside emergency kit that includes jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, work gloves, a change of clothes, emergency blankets, towels, and coats. These supplies can be invaluable during emergencies or when stranded on the road. In addition, make sure to have a charged portable cell phone charger, extra windshield washer fluid, and maps.

“We encourage all drivers to prioritize safety during the summer season by following these essential tips,” said Andrew R. Stolfi, insurance commissioner and director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “By practicing responsible driving habits and taking proactive measures, we can collectively contribute to safer roads and a more enjoyable driving experience for everyone. In addition to taking safety measures, and before hitting the road, drivers should make sure their auto insurance coverages are updated and their current proof of insurance is in the vehicle.”

ODOT has published its summer news packet that has a lot of information for people traveling around the state with construction updates, travel tips, and more. ODOT also recommends people check out www.tripcheck.com for road conditions before making any road trip.

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About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation protects consumers and regulates insurance, depository institutions, trust companies, securities, and consumer financial products and services. The division is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest consumer protection and business regulatory agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.

Attached Media Files: DFR-logo-blue.jpg
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Five companies will offer health insurance in every Oregon county next year as health insurers file 2025 rate requests for individual and small group markets (Photo) - 05/23/24

Salem – Oregon consumers can get a first look at requested rates for 2025 individual and small group health insurance plans, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) announced today.

In a major win for Oregonians, Moda will become the fifth company to offer health insurance in every single county in Oregon after expanding into Benton, Linn, and Lincoln counties. Moda joins BridgeSpan, PacificSource, Providence, and Regence as health insurance companies who provide coverage in all parts of Oregon. It is the first time that five insurers have offered plans in every county.  

In the individual market, six companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average increase of 5.0 percent to 11.6 percent, for a weighted average increase of 9.3 percent. That average increase is higher than last year’s requested weighted average increase of 6.2 percent.

In the small group market, eight companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average increase of 5.7 percent to 16.3 percent, for a weighted average increase of 12.3 percent, which is higher than last year’s requested 8.1 percent average increase.

The Oregon Reinsurance Program continues to help stabilize the market and lower rates. Reinsurance lowered rates by 8.4 percent. 

See the attached chart for the full list of rate change requests.

“Oregon’s health insurance market remains competitive, with five carriers planning to offer plans next year in every Oregon county, up from only one statewide plan in 2018,” said Oregon Insurance Commissioner and DCBS Director Andrew R. Stolfi. “Unfortunately, inflation – both medical and nonmedical – as well as prescription drug costs, are driving prices higher than last year. Oregonians still have a lot of options to choose from and the Oregon Reinsurance Program continues to allow them to find reasonable rates.”

Virtual public hearings about the 2025 requested health insurance rates will be held July 1 from 9 a.m. to noon. A web address to watch the public hearings will be posted at OregonHealthRates.org. At the hearings, each insurance company will provide a brief presentation about its rate increase requests, answer questions from Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) staff, and hear public comment from Oregonians. The public also can comment on the proposed rates at any time at OregonHealthRates.org through July 1.

“We look forward to putting these rate requests through a rigorous public review, and we encourage the public to join the virtual public hearings and provide feedback on their health insurance plans,” Stolfi said. “This public process not only helps keep insurance companies accountable, but it gives people the opportunity be part of the process.”

The requested rates are for plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act for small businesses and individuals who buy their own coverage rather than getting it through an employer.

Over the next two months, the division will analyze the requested rates to ensure they adequately cover Oregonians’ health care costs. DFR must review and approve rates before they are charged to policyholders.

Preliminary decisions are expected to be announced in July, and final decisions will be made in August after the public hearings and comment period ends.

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About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation protects consumers and regulates insurance, depository institutions, trust companies, securities, and consumer financial products and services. The division is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest consumer protection and business regulatory agency. Visit DFR.Oregon.gov and DCBS.Oregon.gov.