Oregon OSHA Fines Mattress Retailer for Exposing Workers to Vehicle Safety Hazards
Oregon OSHA fined Mattress Megastore in Hillsboro more than $66,000 for multiple workplace safety violations, including willfully exposing employees to serious injury or death from potential traffic accidents.
The penalties followed an inspection launched by the division in response to a confidentially filed complaint. The inspection reportedly found the employer repeatedly and knowingly exposed employees to potential traffic accidents by requiring them to operate a one-ton box delivery truck that was unsafe.
The truck had no working windshield wipers, yet the employer required employees to use it for deliveries during rainstorms, according to Oregon OSHA’s inspection. The truck had two large cracks in the windshield, obscuring the driver’s line of sight. Moreover, the driver’s side seatbelt of the same vehicle failed to work.
Mattress Megastore also reportedly threatened employees with termination if deliveries weren’t completed using the truck, according to Oregon OSHA’s inspection. A referral was made to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which enforces the anti-retaliation provisions of the Oregon Safe Employment Act.
The willful violation went against an Oregon OSHA requirement that forbids employers from allowing employees to drive or ride in any vehicle known to be unsafe. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional or purposeful disregard for the requirements of the Oregon Safe Employment Act or a plain indifference to employee safety and health.
The citation issued to Mattress Megastore included serious violations of other workplace safety requirements, with a total penalty of $66,960. The other violations were as follows:
- A warehouse emergency exit route was blocked by merchandise, exposing employees to the potential hazard of not being able to leave the building safely. Penalty: $120.
- No safety committee or safety meetings were established or held, leaving employees exposed to potential hazards because safety and health concerns were not being actively discussed or identified. Penalty: $860.
- Areas in front of electrical cabinets were not kept free and clear of stored material, exposing employees to potential hazards associated with blocked electrical panels. Penalty: $120.
- Heat illness prevention training was not provided to employees; no acclimatization plan was developed or implemented to gradually adapt employees to working in hot weather; the emergency medical plan did not address potential employee exposure to excessive heat; and no heat illness prevention plan was developed and maintained in writing. Penalty: $860.
The citation included a standard penalty reduction based on the small size of the company. Employers have 30 calendar days after receiving a citation to file an appeal.
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