The Oregon House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 592A by a partisan vote 35 to 23 and referred it to Gov. Tiny Kotek’s office for final approval. The law comes into force immediately after its signature by the governor. Represent.Salem’s Kevin Mannix was the only Republican to vote for the bill. The
Bill would require the Oregon Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Oregon’s OSHA, to increase minimum penalties by more than 1,000% in some cases to bring them into line with state OSHA regulations. In addition, the state Department of Occupational Safety would need to conduct comprehensive inspections of any workplace where an employee dies or where the company commits three or more “intentional” or repeat violations in a year. “These hefty fines will show Oregon employees and their families that workers’ lives matter and that if an employee dies an entirely preventable death, there will be dire consequences,” Rep. Dacia Grayber, D-Portland, said through he pushed the bill through the House. .
Republicans argued that the bill would penalize small businesses that cannot afford large fines without addressing the root causes of unsafe jobs. In an impassioned speech, R-Amity representative Anna Scharf discussed the death of Pete Neuman, who she says was a friend of hers, who died in 2019 after suffering from malfunctioning equipment while working at a Benton County workplace had been run over. Oregon OSHA fined Benton County more than $30,000 for the security breach following Neuman’s death. Although Scharf said he believes in the need for stricter workplace oversight, he said higher fines would hurt small businesses and do little to deter government agencies, which could simply pay the fines with taxpayers’ money.