Oregon OSHA to investigate over 100 heatwave-related complaints

Oregon

The complaints show many employees felt their employers didn't do enough to prepare for the heat

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The extreme heatwave at the end of June prompted dozens of workplace complaints in Oregon, KOIN 6 News has learned.

Between June 24 and June 30, workers filed more than 250 complaints with the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 114 of which were related to extreme heat.

The complaints reference businesses across the state. Several were filed against fast-food restaurants (both chains and local establishments), food manufacturing businesses, grocery stores and dispensaries. Several former employees of Voodoo Doughnut said they were fired for refusing to work in the extreme heat.

The complaints show many employees felt their employers didn’t do enough to prepare for the heat or take steps to protect them from heat exhaustion.

Oregon OSHA spokesperson Aaron Corvin said they will investigate all of the complaints as heat is considered a workplace hazard.

“Our expectation is that employers take reasonable measures to address a recognized hazard,” Corvin said.

Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries: Workers Rights
Oregon Occupational Safety and Health

Two complaints were filed against a McMenamins restaurant in Wilsonville. One complaint stated: “Employees were told that if they left due to heat concerns they would be fired. Inside the kitchen registered 124, the dining room was over 100, and the refrigeration system was higher than food safe. They eventually closed but not until someone from the public complained and threatened to make a complaint.”

After asking McMenamins to comment on the complaints, KOIN 6 received the following statement:

“Our customer and employee safety is always a top priority at McMenamins. Leading up to the heatwave, we did our best to prepare each location for the anticipated high temperatures, and allowed employees who did not feel comfortable coming into work to stay home. As temperatures rose throughout the day, we permitted employees to leave – without repercussions – and ultimately closed multiple locations early (including the Wilsonville pub); many properties remained closed the following day. This year has brought its fair share of challenges and we continue to do our best, monitoring situations and adjusting operations as needed to ensure the safety of our employees and patrons.”

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