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For Immediate Release

July 12, 2002

Contact Information:

Kevin Weeks, 503-947-7428 
Toll free within Oregon: 800-922-2689

OR-OSHA ready for agricultural labor season

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR-OSHA) is employing a number of new strategies this agricultural growing season to ensure that workers and families living in agricultural labor housing around the state are afforded a basic standard for health and safety where they live.

Registration Numbers Close to 2001 Season

All agricultural labor housing operators in Oregon are required to register their dwelling unit with OR-OSHA. Upon the initial registration of a dwelling, the housing operator is required to receive a pre-occupancy consultation report from OR-OSHA. Active labor housing units are also subject to inspection by OR-OSHA officers to enforce minimum living standards for occupants.
As of June 15th, 322 dwelling units have registered with OR-OSHA for the 2002 growing season, close to the 2001 total of 333. The majority of registered agricultural labor units are in the Mid-Columbia region of Oregon (Hood River and Wasco counties).

Number of Agriculture Labor Housing operations registered with OR-OSHA

 County  2001 Total  2002 (To June 15)
 Hood River  119  125
 Wasco  70  70
 Marion  32  32
 Clackamas  18  17
 Washington  23  15
 Union  14  14
 Jackson  16  11
 Polk  9  9
 Yamhill  10  8
 Multnomah  4  6
 Malheur  4  3
 Morrow  2  3
 Grant  1  2
 Klamath  2  2
 Benton  1  1
 Douglas  1  1
 Josephine  1  1
 Lane  1  1
 Umatilla  1  1

Compliance Officers Target Willamette Valley

One key recommendation of the Interim Task Force on Farmworker Housing in 2000 was that locating unregistered housing operators should be a major enforcement priority for OR-OSHA. The panel was established by the 1999 Legislature to address farmworker housing issues. OR-OSHA is dedicating two compliance officers to work full-time during the summer months on locating unregistered agricultural labor housing facilities. The compliance officers will be using a number of data sources and information to assist in locating unregistered housing, including public records searches, agricultural production data, interviews and field investigations.

"Our compliance officers will be attempting to locate potential housing units which are not currently registered," says Nancy Cody, enforcement manager for OR-OSHA's Salem field office. During the 2002 season, the two officers will be targeting Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Washington and Clackamas counties for investigation, however OR-OSHA will continue to investigate reports of unregistered labor housing throughout Oregon.

OR-OSHA Needs Help from You

Obtaining information from community members is one of the many sources of information the agricultural housing compliance officers are counting on to investigate reports of unregistered housing. If you suspect a housing facility may not be registered with OR-OSHA, please call 800-922-2689 toll free within Oregon to pass along information. Your information will be kept confidential.

Increased Penalties for Not Registering

The penalty for failure to register an agricultural labor housing operation has increased to $5000 this year from the former penalty of $2500. Ten persons were issued citations for failure to register an agricultural labor housing operation during 2001, and 158 agricultural labor housing facilities were inspected by OR-OSHA in 2001.

For additional information about OR-OSHA's agricultural labor housing enforcement program, please contact the Salem Field Office at 503-378-3274 or toll-free in Oregon, 800-922-2689.