COVID-19 pandemic: Oregon OSHA begins complaint-triggered spot checks
Salem, OR — In response to a spike in COVID-19-related complaints received in March and early April, Oregon OSHA has begun conducting spot checks “to verify that employers are complying with requirements – including closures to the public – aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.”
According to an April 13 press release, the agency received 2,887 such complaints since March 2. More than 1,200 of them came after March 23, when Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued a stay-at-home order. On average, Oregon OSHA receives just more than 2,000 complaints a year.
The spot checks – which are in addition to more time-intensive, onsite inspections initiated by the agency, the release notes – will result from complaints that allege failure to comply with the governor’s order, including certain businesses remaining open or not enforcing proper physical distancing protocol.
Enforcement activity will be focused on more recent complaints and those that provide specific allegations, the agency states, adding that it “can protect a complainant’s confidentiality on request – a legal shield against an employer obtaining a complainant’s identity – while still being able to engage with the complainant.”
Oregon OSHA administrator Michael Wood said: “This approach will allow us to verify the responses to complaints that we’ve received so far from employers while focusing our enforcement resources on those employers most likely to be in continued noncompliance.”
The complaint screening process includes clarifying employers’ responsibilities under the order and asking employers to respond to specific allegations in a complaint.