FLORENCE, Ore. – The Firehouse Restaurant in Florence has been fined $18,150 by Oregon OSHA for violating standards meant to protect employees from COVID-19.
The citation resulted from an inspection that followed multiple complaints about the restaurant. OSHA conducted its inspection by phone, because social media posts and websites indicated the potential for people armed with guns to block access to the business.
OSHA’s investigation also showed that some extremist groups were encouraging people to engage in violence against OSHA compliance officers if they visited the site.
Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator, imposed a penalty of $17,800, which is twice the minimum fine for such a violation. Another fine of $175 is being imposed because the restaurant failed to develop an infection control plan. An additional penalty of $175 is being imposed because the restaurant did not conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment to identify potential employee exposure to the virus and how to reduce such exposure.
The inspection of The Firehouse Restaurant found the business committing the violations on or about Dec. 26 and continuing to do so afterward. The inspection included an interview with Kylie McKenzie, manager of the restaurant.
McKenzie said she originally closed the business to the public, but later decided to re-open it, even though she was aware the decision went against measures to prevent the spread of the disease in an extreme-risk county.
Ongoing refusals to correct violations and come into compliance with workplace health and safety standards can lead to additional higher penalties, Oregon OSHA said. If an Oregon OSHA inspection documents violations while a county is at extreme risk, but the county’s risk level drops before the citation is issued, the citation will still be issued. The change in risk levels may affect how the violation needs to be corrected, but not whether it is cited.
Employers have 30 days to appeal citations.