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Oregon’s OSHA ‘overwhelmed’ with COVID-19 complaints

Redmond Athletic Club latest business to reopen, despite restrictions

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- During an average year, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) receives around 2,000 complaints about employers who might be breaking safety regulations.

This year, that number is on pace to break 20,000, thanks to the pandemic and complaints of workplaces violating the state-imposed restrictions.

Oregon OSHA spokesman Aaron Corvin said Monday that all the responsibility cannot fall on their agency, so they're asking for help from employers.

"We're working as hard as we can, but we really need a lot of folks to be pulling in the right direction," Corvin said.

Corvin said the majority of complaints stem from COVID-19 safety concerns.

Nearly 2/3 of those have been resolved, but the agency said they are overwhelmed and simply do not have the resources to keep up.

Deschutes County is still considered "extreme risk," like most of Oregon, meaning gyms and indoor dining are directed to remain closed, but the Redmond Athletic Club has other plans.

They opened back up on Monday, saying they will continue to take the same precautionary measures as before the shutdown.

Owner Branegan Dixon declined an in-person interview with NewsChannel 21, but did provide his reasoning for reopening in a statement over the phone.

"I feel that I'm saving more lives by staying open as a health club, rather than being closed," Dixon said.

Dixon said no COVID-19 cases have been traced to their club, so they will continue to uphold what they say are proven measures of safety.

Corvin said workplace safety fines have typically ranged from $100 to $2,000 for lower-level citations, but for willful violations, the penalties could range from $8,900 to $14,000.

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.


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