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Oregon OSHA On Pace To Finish Year With Tenfold Increase In Complaints

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Thanks to the pandemic, the agency that enforces workplace safety regulations says it’s on track to finish the year with a tenfold increase in complaints over last year.

In a typical year, Oregon OSHA gets about 2,000 complaints about employers who may be violating workplace safety requirements. This year is different.

“We are looking at breaking 20,000 total complaints by year’s end,” said Oregon OSHA spokesman Aaron Corvin, who added that the vast majority of those complaints are about COVID-19.

He said nearly two-thirds have been resolved, sometimes with just a single phone call. But he said the agency just doesn’t have the resources to pay a visit to every workplace that’s the subject of a complaint. “We are a little bit constrained in the number of inspections we can do,” he said.

"Certainly we have been long set up to take complaints. That's nothing new. We have phone lines, we have an online hazard reporting system," he said. "What is unprecedented is the high volume of complaints related to the pandemic."

Corvin says OSHA is concentrating its efforts on businesses that are in willful violation of the measures intended to slow the spread of the virus.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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