ALBANY, Ore. — A food processing facility in Albany, Oregon has been cited by OSHA for failing to implement physical distancing measures — even as multiple employees tested positive for COVID-19, the agency said.
OSHA cited National Frozen Foods for a proposed penalty of $2,000 following an inspection on April 20 in response to multiple complaints about the facility, which produces frozen fruits and vegetables.
“We expect employers to follow the appropriate requirements to protect workers against the spread of this disease,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Continuing to do business as usual at the expense of worker safety is not acceptable.”
Most businesses in Oregon were allowed to stay in operation following Governor Brown's stay-at-home order, but with the requirement that employers maintain physical distancing of at least six feet between workers. The rule has been difficult for manufacturing centers, where employees working in close proximity is standard operating procedure.
According to OSHA, inspectors interviewed 18 employees, who were normally stationed at frozen packaging lines nine at a time during day and swing shifts. The agency said that National Frozen Foods continued to have them work within two or four feet of one another.
"The company allowed this practice to continue after multiple employees who worked on the packaging lines tested positive for COVID-19," OSHA said.
Under Governor Brown's executive order, OSHA has been charged with enforcing the new requirements intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.
OSHA inspected the MasterBrand facility in Grants Pass early this month following similar complaints and one employee testing positive for coronavirus. The results of that investigation have not yet been made public.