Oregon OSHA may refer case over noise level citations at Custom Dry Kilns and Sawmill in Sheridan to administrative law judge if owner fails to attend rescheduled hearing

LOS ANGELES , November 10, 2011 () – Oregon OSHA says its case against Sheridan-based Custom Dry Kilns and Sawmill could be referred to an administrative law judge if the company's owner, George Gabriel, does not attend a hearing scheduled for Nov. 21.

OSHA cited Gabriel in June for failing to monitor noise levels employees are subjected to or implement a hearing preservation program, the News-Register reported on Nov. 9. The agency ordered Gabriel to remedy the situation by Oct. 8, but says no evidence of a response could be found when follow-up inspections were carried out.

Gabriel wrote a letter to the agency disputing its findings and requesting a hearing. OSHA granted the hearing on Oct. 25, but spokeswoman Melanie Mesaros says he did not show up.

The hearing has been rescheduled for Nov. 21, and the agency says it will refer the matter to an administrative law judge if Gabriel fails to show again.

The agency is able to resolve most cases without formal adjudication, Mesaros said. She estimated that less than 10% require the intervention of a judge.

Gabriel could face additional penalties of up to $250 a day retroactive to the agency’s Oct. 8 deadline. But he stated in his letter that the company does not accept Oregon OSHA's findings, adding "we do NOT intend to pay any penalties under any set of circumstances. We never have; we never will.”

In his letter to Oregon OSHA, Gabriel challenged the findings relating to noise levels, saying he provides ear protection for workers. He said it was an insult to his employees to suggest that adult Americans in Oregon are incapable of covering their ears with a set of ear phones provided by the employer, or that using ear plugs requires training in rocket science.

He added: “If OR-OSHA can show us what type of training is required to cover employee’s ears, we will gladly conduct classes in that science.”

The plant was shut down by the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office in 2007 after Gabriel refused to take out city building permits, pay the required fee or obey the resulting stop-work order. Following the Sheriff's action, Gabriel took out the permits and paid the fee.

The primary source of this article is the News-Register, McMinnville, Oregon, on Nov. 9, 2011.

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