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Hundreds of Oregon workers say their employers are failing to heed the governor's call for social distancing.

pmgOregon plans to begin inspecting workplaces this week to evaluate employees' complaints that their businesses are not doing enough to protect people from exposure to the coronavirus.

When Gov. Kate Brown ordered Oregonians to "stay home" a week ago to contain spread of the deadly virus, she exempted construction and manufacturing from the directive. She allowed many other businesses to continue operating, too, so long as they maintain a safe distance among employees and take additional steps to prevent the virus for spreading.

"If we identify and classify violations as serious, there will be a penalty."

Hundreds of Oregon workers say their employers are failing that test. The Occupational Safety and Health division (Oregon OSHA) fielded more than 1,100 complaints about coronavirus issues last week, according to Aaron Corvin, spokesman for the division. (OSHA is taking complaints online.)

Surprise inspections could begin as early as Monday, according to Corvin, who said OSHA will not issue warnings.

"If we inspect and find violations, we cite," Corvin wrote. "If we identify and classify violations as serious, there will be a penalty."

OSHA will be looking for "a fact specific determination that will evaluate whether the employer has addressed this recognized hazard in a fashion that appears to be credible."

This Oregonian/OregonLive story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.


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