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Hemp employers fined for workplace safety hazards

In a series of related enforcement actions, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined multiple employers a total of $825,000 for willful job safety violations linked to a rural property in Murphy, Oregon, used to house workers and to process hemp, Oregon OSHA announced Tuesday.

The violations by five employers – all located in southern Oregon and all fined $165,000 each – included allowing an estimated 25 workers to occupy a condemned building that could have collapsed and severely injured or killed them, according to a statement.

The employers included Eighteen New Hope LLC; Jai B Levy and Yoram Levy and Yuval Magid; Jai B Levy and Yoram Levy; Yuval Magid; and Safe & Simple LLC, according to the statement.

At issue was a property where the employers were trimming and packaging hemp for resale, a site the Office of the State Fire Marshal referred to Oregon OSHA to launch an investigation of a 23,398-square-foot building that featured working and living areas that had been deemed “unsafe for occupation” by local building safety officials, according to the statement.

Instead of addressing the building’s “open and obvious” structural defects that could have “caused the building to collapse, employers allowed an estimated 25 people to work, live, cook, and sleep in and around it,” according to Oregon OSHA, whose investigators “identified major gaps in and under the building’s walls that exposed employees to water, rodents, and insects.”

The investigation also pinpointed a lack of exit routes and padlocked doors that left workers no safe way to escape the building in case of a collapse or fire, according to Oregon OSHA.