The federal COVID-19 public health emergency ended Thursday, and over the next few weeks Oregon will lift its remaining health-protective measures such as masking, isolation and vaccination requirements for certain workers.
While pandemic restrictions are ending, outstanding fines for those who violated the rules still must be paid.
An estimated 58 coronavirus-related citations, totaling about $867,000, are on appeal or in the collections process, said Aaron Corvin, a spokesperson for Oregon OSHA.
The biggest fine went to Salem-based Capitol Racquet Sports, which operates the five Courthouse Club Fitness gyms in Salem and Keizer. Its total penalty, which it has appealed, is $216,749.
Thousands of complaints
Since March 2020, Oregon OSHA has received an estimated 32,000 complaints alleging COVID-19 violations. It also has received 10,700 non-COVID-19 complaints.
That compares with the 2,000 complaints per year the division typically receives, Corvin said.
During the same period, Oregon OSHA issued an estimated 256 citations, totaling about $980,000, to employers involving violations of requirements to protect workers from COVID-19.
Those fines are the result of an estimated 771 inspections, said Corvin said.
The inspections included complaint-driven enforcement visits, as well as visits where the division examined COVID-19 protocols as part of an inspection that otherwise addressed non-COVID-19 hazards.
Largest coronavirus-related fine goes to Salem gym
In November 2020, Oregon OSHA officials fined Courthouse Club Fitness $90,000 for defying Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order requiring gyms to close as part of a two-week “freeze” aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Oregon OSHA fined four of the chain’s locations — Battle Creek, Lancaster, West Salem and Keizer — $22,500 each. Each penalty included $17,500 for willfully violating the order, and $5,000 for a serious violation of a Red Warning Notice, which requires an employer to discontinue an unsafe activity.
At the time, Courthouse owner John Miller said in a statement that his business would not survive another shutdown.
The company was fined an additional $126,749 in January 2021 for “willfully continuing to potentially expose employees to the infectious coronavirus,” at the Battle Creek location, according to OSHA officials.
Capitol Racquet Sports has appealed all the fines, and the appeals have been transferred to the Worker’s Compensation Board, Corvin said.
Courthouse vice-president Drew Baker did not respond to the Statesman Journal on Friday.
Fines paid, appealed or sent to collections
Once a penalty becomes final, Oregon OSHA tries to set up a payment plan for employers, Corvin said.
If that fails, the division can assign the debt to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services accounts receivable to begin collections. It also can be transferred to the Department of Revenue, which continues to work on collecting payment.
These are the other Marion and Polk County employers cited for COVID-19 violations, and the status of the penalties:
Glamour Salon, Salem, $14,000: Fined in May 2020 for willfully failing to follow an executive order prohibiting the operation of barber shops and hair salons. The citation was appealed and transferred to the Workers’ Compensation Board, where the employer withdrew the appeal. The penalty now is in collections.
Café 22 West, Salem, $13,900: Fined in September 2020 for failing to implement health hazard controls, such as face coverings and physical distancing, and for serious violations of a Red Warning Notice. The citation was appealed and transferred to the Workers’ Compensation Board, where it remains.
Arrowhead Ornamentals, Hubbard, $720: Fined in March 2022 for six violations, one of which involved COVID-19 (failing to ensure that all employees used facial coverings while performing hand labor operations inside an agricultural warehouse. The company paid the penalty.
C&H Management (Ace Hardware), Stayton, $280: Fined in November 2020 for failing to provide health hazard controls, such as facial coverings and physical distancing, to protect an estimated 15 employees. The company paid the penalty.
Silver Creek Auto Parts, Silverton, $280: Fined in September 2020 for failing to implement health hazard controls for employees, including ensuring customers and employees wore face coverings and increasing physical distancing. The company paid the penalty.
Tracy Loew covers the environment at the Statesman Journal. Send comments, questions and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-399-6779. Follow her on Twitter at @Tracy_Loew
This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Oregon employers still owe $867,000 for COVID-19 violations