Oregon OSHA has fined Kevista Coffee in Bend $27,470 for violating three standards designed to protect employees from the coronavirus disease. In one of the violations, the company willfully continued to potentially expose workers to the virus, despite a public health order limiting the capacity of indoor dining to zero in an “extreme risk” county.
The citation resulted from an inspection launched in response to multiple complaints about Kevista (its legal name is Laui Life Coffee LLC). The inspection documented the fact that the company, operating in Deschutes County, willfully began allowing indoor dining beginning on Dec. 3, 2020, and thereafter. During that time, Deschutes County was designated an “extreme risk” for transmission of the disease.
During the inspection, the owners of Kevista – Krista and Kevin Lauinger – said they chose to re-open the coffee shop even though they were aware that it went against workplace health requirements.
Using his discretionary authority under state law, Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood imposed a $26,700 penalty for the willful violation. That is three times the minimum penalty for such a violation. The decision reflects the need to ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect where employers insist on disregarding health and safety standards.
Such willful behavior puts employees at risk and enables the employer to achieve a competitive advantage over businesses that comply with the requirements.
“Through engagement and education, we’ve helped many employers understand and follow on-the-job health and safety rules during the pandemic. And most employers have chosen – and continue to choose – doing the right thing as we work to defeat this disease in Oregon,” Wood said. “As for the vocal few who insist on defying standards and putting their workers at risk, we will continue to bring our enforcement tools to bear.”
Altogether, Oregon OSHA cited three violations of the division’s temporary rule to address COVID-19 risks in the workplace:
• In allowing indoor dining, Kevista Coffee knowingly chose to disregard capacity limitations imposed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for such establishments in a county designated as extreme risk. It was a willful violation, carrying a discretionary penalty of $26,700.
• The company failed to develop and implement an infection control plan. Such a plan could include redesigning the workspace to enable physical distancing and reducing the use of shared surfaces and tools. It was a serious violation, carrying a penalty of $385.
• The company did not conduct any COVID-19 risk assessment to identify potential employee exposure to the virus and to address how to reduce such exposure. It was a serious violation, carrying a penalty of $385.
This is not the first time Oregon OSHA has cited Kevista Coffee for a violation of COVID-19 requirements. In July 2020, the division issued an $8,900 citation to the company for willfully failing to implement face coverings in line with sector-specific guidance for restaurants and bars.
Ongoing refusals to correct violations and come into compliance with workplace health and safety standards can lead to additional higher penalties. Meanwhile, if an Oregon OSHA inspection documents violations while a county is at extreme risk, but the county’s risk level drops before the citation is issued, the citation will still be issued. The change in risk levels may affect how the violation needs to be corrected, but not whether it is cited.
Employers have 30 days to appeal citations.
Source: Oregon OSHA