OSHA can fine Oregon businesses up to $126k for “willful” covid-19 violations

SALEM, Ore — As many businesses in the state face unforeseen setbacks due to pandemic restrictions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues to emphasize business compliance.

As of Friday, 15 counties including Jackson, Josephine and Klamath are in extreme risk – restricting businesses like restaurants to only open for take-out and outdoor dining. 

OSHA says its seen cases of businesses defying orders – ranging from not enforcing mask/social distancing mandates, to allowing indoor dining.

“OSHA does not give warnings,” OSHA spokesperson Aaron Corvin told NBC5 news in a statement. “We certainly try to engage and educate employers about covid requirements.”

Corvin says the Administration will typically conduct an inspection investigation if it receives complaints, “alleging covid-related hazards.” 

Fines are issued if the investigator identifies violations during the inspection. Under its penalty rules, a serious violation that is not intentional may cost an employer a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $12,675.

Though in most cases, OSHA says it cited employers for willful violations ranging from $8,900 to a maximum of $126,749.

RELATED: Klamath Falls restaurant fined for COVID violations

“Refusals to come into compliance with workplace health and safety standards can lead to additional and higher penalties,” Corvin said.

OSHA allows up to 30 days to appeal any citation. During settlement hearings, owners can disclose any financial hardships that it faces because of the closures.

Corvin says fines can be lowered or upheld depending on the case. Payment plans are also an option for employers.

“All penalties are due when the citation becomes a final order,” Corvin said. “If payment is not received within 20 days after the order becomes final, then it can go to collections.”

An overview of OSHA’s citation process can be found here: https://osha.oregon.gov/rules/enf/Pages/citations.aspx

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