Albany food plant cited for COVID-19-related violation


The citation carries a $2,000 penalty

FILE – This file image provided by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange) the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab. A new type of coronavirus test offers a cheaper, quicker way to screen for infections, moving the U.S. toward the kind of mass screening that experts say is essential to returning millions of Americans to school and work. But the first so-called antigen test _ announced Saturday, may 9, 2020 by the Food and Drug Administration _ is not quite the kind sought by top government health officials. It is less accurate than the current gold standard for testing and can only be run on specialized equipment. (NIAID-RML via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A frozen food plant in Albany has been hit with a citation from the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration when an inspection found employees had not been physically distanced even after multiple people had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The citation stems from an April 20th inspection of National Frozen Food’s facilities in Albany. Oregon OSHA said it had received “multiple complaints about the facility,” which had not implemented physical distancing measures stipulated by the governor’s executive order.

According to the inspector’s findings, the frozen fruit and vegetable plant had 18 employees, who were “stationed at frozen packaging lines nine at a time during day and swing shifts,” working between two to four feet of each other. This practice was allowed to continue despite multiple employees who worked on the packaging lines tested positive for COVID-19.

Oregon OSHA flooded with coronavirus-related complaints

“We expect employers to follow the appropriate requirements to protect workers against the spread of this disease,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA, in a statement. “Continuing to do business as usual at the expense of worker safety is not acceptable.”

The citation issued to National Frozen Foods has a possible fine of up to $2,000.

Under Governor Kate Brown’s executive order, Oregon OSHA was tasked with enforcing the safety requirements laid out for employers to protect workers from the spread of the coronavirus. Since the “Stay Home, Save Lives” ordered was issued in late March, Oregon OSHA reported seeing a huge spike in the number of complaints it received about workplaces. The most frequent complaints include failing to implement social distancing practices, a lack of cleaning supplies to clean surfaces and facilities, and a lack of means to wash or sanitize hands.

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