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Workers Memorial Day ceremony honors Oregon workers who died on the job in 2023 (Photo) - 04/23/24

Salem, OR – It’s a day to remember those who died on the job. It’s a day to grieve with families, friends, and communities. It’s a day to renew our responsibility to create and maintain safe and healthy workplaces for all workers in Oregon.

Oregon workers who died on the job will be honored with a ceremony at noon Friday, April 26, in Salem. The Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) – part of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) – and Oregon AFL-CIO invite all Oregonians to attend the Workers Memorial Day observance.

The event will take place at the Fallen Workers Memorial outside the Labor and Industries Building, 350 Winter St. NE, on the Capitol Mall. The memorial service, coordinated by Oregon AFL-CIO, will feature remarks from union leaders, safety and health advocates, and elected officials.

“Every day, people across Oregon leave their homes and go to work to provide for themselves and their families – and to help make the state a thriving place to live,” Gov. Tina Kotek said. “Today, we honor the Oregonians whose lives were tragically lost doing their job and offer our deepest condolences to their families. Going forward, we will continue our efforts to make working conditions safer, so all workers are better protected.”

During the ceremony, Sen. Deb Patterson and House Majority Leader Ben Bowman will read the names of Oregon workers who died on the job in 2023.

Oregon OSHA Administrator Renée Stapleton and Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor will serve as event speakers. The event will also include remarks from PCUN Representative Liz Marquez Gutierrez and a reading of Gov. Kotek’s proclamation by Vince Porter, the governor’s deputy chief of staff for public administration. 

Oregon workplaces are safer and healthier today than in previous decades. Yet, there are still far too many preventable on-the-job deaths each year. 

“Every worker and their family deserves to know, without question, that they will return home safely at the end of a shift,” Trainor said. “This year, we read the names of 56 fallen workers, which is an increase from last year and the absolutely starkest reminder that workplace safety must be taken seriously. Oregon unions will advocate for safety improvements on the job until there are no names to be read aloud on Workers Memorial Day. This is our most critical mission, and, while we’ve made significant progress, we must always strive for perfection when it comes to keeping working people safe on the job.” 

Through a partnership of labor, business, and government working together to bolster workplace safety and health, Oregon’s fatality and injury and illness rates have steadily declined for decades.

Nevertheless, there is room for improvement.

“As we honor the memories of the lives tragically taken from us, we must also summon our courage, skill, and ethical duty to rekindle our commitment to protecting the safety and health of all workers in Oregon,” Stapleton said. “Everyone who plays a role in the safety and health of Oregon workplaces – employers, managers, safety and health professionals, employees, co-workers – must do this with urgency and clarity. Through our actions and words, we must carry the message forward that workers have an indisputable right to a safe and healthy workplace and that employers are obligated – not just legally, but morally – to protect their workers from harm.”

The annual Workers Memorial Day serves as a nationwide day of remembrance. The observance is traditionally held on April 28 because the U.S. Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act on that date in 1970.

Resources are available to workers and employers to advance on-the-job safety and health in Oregon, including:

Oregon OSHA

DCBS Multicultural Communications Program

Ombuds Office for Oregon Workers

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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 Oregon OSHA

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

The Oregon AFL-CIO is the statewide federation of affiliated unions, representing more than 300,000 working Oregonians.  For more information, visit Oregon AFL-CIO.

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Oregon OSHA and partners to put spotlight on workplace safety and health in Pendleton, offering learning opportunities for workers and employers (Photo) - 04/09/24

Salem – A two-day event in Pendleton will offer employers and workers multiple learning opportunities that will help them make their job sites safer and healthier. Topics include everything from how to improve your safety culture and worker well-being to safety committees and how to address the most common chemical hazards in your workplace.

The 16th annual Blue Mountain Occupational Safety and Health Conference, which will be held June 3-4 at the Pendleton Convention Center, will also feature learning sessions in Spanish. Employers are encouraged to take advantage of those sessions by sending staff members who would prefer to gain important safety and health knowledge in Spanish.

The conference is a collaborative effort by Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA) – a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services – Oregon SHARP Alliance, and employers and employees in northeast Oregon.

On Tuesday, June 4, the keynote presentation, “Dominoes, Just Don’t Watch Them Fall,” features safety motivational speakers Brad and Delores Gardner of Helping Hand Presentations. More than a decade ago, Brad lost his right arm in a workplace accident. The accident did not have to happen. The couple will share their story to help people prevent such tragedies and to inspire them to see safety in a new light. 

The two-day event, which includes several pre-conference workshops, offers an extended slate of topics in Spanish. On Monday, June 3, workers who prefer to learn important safety and health information in Spanish will have many topics to choose from. Topics include hazard identification, slips, trips, and falls, fall protection, chemical safety, lockout/tagout, and machine guarding.   

Additional conference topics include:

  • Introduction to Occupational Medicine
  • I’m on the Safety Committee, Now What?
  • Critical Incident Stress Management
  • Oregon OSHA’s Heat and Wildfire Smoke Rules
  • Worker Well-Being in Five Easy Steps
  • What Is Your Safety Culture? How Do You Take It to the Next Level?
  • Situational Thinking
  • Safe Forklift Operations: Managing a Successful Program
  • Is It Luck or Is It PSM? The Elements of Process Safety Management

Registration for the pre-conference workshops on Monday, June 3, is $50. Registration for the conference on Tuesday, June 4, is $115, which includes lunch. To register, go to safetyseries.cventevents.com/blue24.

 

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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/.

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Oregon Division of Financial Regulation encourages consumers to check with their insurance carriers about lowering premiums if credit improves (Photo) - 04/04/24

Salem – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) has issued a $200,000 fine against State Farm after the company failed to send notices over the past six years informing its insureds of their ability to request an annual credit check, which could affect their premiums. Half of the total fine will be suspended and waived after three years if State Farm complies with all terms of the final order.

This case serves as an important reminder that Oregon law allows consumers to request an annual rerate from their insurer, which could lead to lower premiums, but will not increase them.

State Farm self-reported the violations to DFR in July 2023, informing the division that notices were not sent out due to a system error. Because of that error, the notification required by ORS 746.650(5) and OAR 836-080-0438 were not sent to customers purchasing new automobile insurance policies between Dec. 5, 2017, and Feb. 23, 2023. Specifically, State Farm did not notify the affected consumers at the inception of their coverage that they may have received a lower rate if their credit history or the credit factors used in their credit-based insurance score were more favorable, and that they had the right to request a rerate of the policy no more than once annually. State Farm notified the division that the issue was corrected on Feb. 23, 2023, for any customers purchasing new policies after that date.

As part of DFR’s final order, State Farm agreed to send a notification to all affected consumers who remain customers of State Farm, approximately 134,690 consumers. State Farm began sending notices on Jan. 2, 2024, through a mailing that is separate and apart from the annual policy renewal documents or any other communication. The mailing also includes a statement that Oregon law requires State Farm to provide a notification to customers at the inception of the policy. All mailings must be completed no later than June 30, 2024.

The division, part of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), encourages all consumers to check with their insurance agent or company to see if a credit check would lower their insurance premiums. Consumers are allowed to do a rerate once a year and if their credit improves, their insurance rates may as well. Rerating due to credit may result in either improving or no change to a consumer’s insurance costs, but will not negatively affect it. 

“We commend State Farm for self-reporting this violation and taking steps to rectify the situation,” said Andrew R. Stolfi, Oregon’s insurance commissioner and DCBS director. “It is important that Oregon consumers know their rights. State law permits insurance companies to use an individual’s credit history to determine how much they pay for insurance, so it is critically important that consumers know they have the ability to lower their insurance premiums with positive credit.”

Consumers with questions or complaints can contact DFR’s consumer advocates at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or email dfr.insuranchelp@dcbs.oregon.gov. Consumers can look at their credit reports each calendar year for free by accessing it online, by phone at 877-322-8228 (toll-free), or by completing and mailing the Annual Credit Report Request FormIf any errors are identified, consumers have the right to correct incomplete or inaccurate information with the credit reporting agent that provided the 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  www.dcbs.oregon.gov.​​

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Oregon OSHA fines Bend construction company $103,438 for repeatedly violating fall protection requirement (Photo) - 03/27/24

Salem – The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) has fined a Bend construction company $103,438 for repeatedly violating a requirement to provide protective systems to safeguard workers from fall hazards that could seriously injure or kill them.

The division cited Sky Ridge Construction LLC following an inspection that focused on a job site where work was being done on new houses. The inspection was conducted under Oregon OSHA’s prevention-based emphasis program addressing fall hazards in all industries.

The inspection found multiple employees working on a roof without fall protection. They were exposed to a potential fall of 18 feet to the ground. Sky Ridge Construction 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 6 feet or more to a lower level, according to the inspection.

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

It was the third time since January 2022 that Sky Ridge Construction violated fall protection requirements. Because of the repeat offenses, the penalty for the violation was multiplied, with Oregon OSHA imposing a $103,438 penalty.

Falls are one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry.

“There is no good reason for an employer to direct employees to work at heights without ensuring fall protection systems are effectively used,” said Renée Stapleton, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Any employer can get the job done safely by ensuring employees who are working at heights are protected. It’s not an option; it’s a requirement. Workers have a right to work safely, and employers must make that right a reality.” 

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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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.

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State of Oregon settles with cryptocurrency asset platform (Photo) - 03/27/24

Salem – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) has reached a settlement agreement in principle with a cryptocurrency asset platform for violating state securities regulations.

The group of affiliated companies – Plutus Financial Holdings Inc., Plutus Financial Inc., Plutus Lending LLC and Abra Boost LLC – offered and sold interest-bearing cryptocurrency depository products referred to as Abra Boost and Abra Earn.

As part of the settlement, the companies – commonly known as Abra – are required to notify all Oregon consumers with open accounts containing crypto assets with the companies that they are winding down U.S. operations and to encourage consumers to move any remaining crypto assets from the platform.

Consumers have at least seven days from the date they receive notice to remove their assets from the Abra platform. Assets remaining after that date with a value of $10 or more will be converted to fiat and a check or other instrument will be sent directly to the consumer’s last known address. 

In Oregon, 167 residents still have cryptocurrencies on the Abra platform valued at about $32,387.14.

The companies – controlled by William “Bill” Barhydt, who is also a party to the settlement – offered Abra Earn to all U.S. clients and Abra Boost to accredited U.S. clients. Investors in both programs earned interest by depositing digital assets with Abra and authorizing Abra to lend client assets to institutional borrowers.

“Although firms are creating new products tied to evolving technologies, they must continue to comply with existing securities laws,” said DFR Administrator TK Keen. “The division will continue to ensure that investors purchasing securities tied to digital assets are afforded the same protections as investors purchasing stocks, bonds and other traditional products.”

As part of the settlement, Abra and Barhydt will enter a consent order with DFR requiring that they cease and desist from offering or selling unregistered securities in Oregon and ordering them to pay an administrative penalty, which will be suspended if they comply with the process to return all assets owned by Oregon consumers before April 25, 2024.

“We strongly encourage clients in Oregon to withdraw their assets as soon as possible, but certainly within seven days of receiving notice from Abra,” said Keen. “We are available to assist and answer consumers’ questions about this settlement.” 

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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.