The Othello Outlook recently reported that the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Health and Safety Division (OSHA) fined ConAgra Foods and NW Metal Fabricators $25,000.00 for violation of health and safety regulations arising from a fatal explosion at potato processing plant in Boardman, Oregon.
Generally, even in a tragedy such as this, the injured worker or his or her survivor's are limited to Oregon Workers Compensation benefits. This is because Oregon law provides that even where an employer is negligent, even reckless, the only remedy that an injured worker in Oregon has against the employer is workers' compensation benefits. This is often referred to as the "exclusive remedy" provision.
There are exceptions. One is Oregon's Employer Liability Law. This law was proposed by initiative in 1910, and provides a higher standard of care for employers engaged in work that involves "risk or danger." Where there is an "indirect" employer, like a contractor or owner, and that person is directing the project, the injured worker or his family may have a claim against the person or entity directing the project. This is why there is more to OHSA's actions than a fine. If OSHA's violations hold true, it's strong evidence that the company directing this work failed to make the workplace safe.
Other Helpful Links:
OHSA Considers Raising Fines
Oregon OSHA Trench Cave In Training Video