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April 17, 2021

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Evans Fruit fined $150K for workplace COVID-19 violations

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YAKIMA — The state Department of Labor & Industries has issued a $150,000 fine to a Yakima Valley fruit grower and processor for violating COVID-19 workplace requirements, the agency said.

L&I said Wednesday in a news release it issued two citations to Cowiche-based Evans Fruit Co. for what it describes as “two willful and serious violations” of workplace COVID-19 mask and social distancing requirements.

The agency contends that Evans Fruit’s violations were willful because it knew employees were required to wear masks but did not enforce the policy and was serious due to the risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 exposure, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

Evans Fruit Co. was cited last summer and issued a $6,600 fine came after an L&I inspection of several locations that showed employees were not wearing face masks, having temperatures checked or social distancing.

Last fall, the agency received an anonymous complaint, prompting an L&I inspector to visit again, finding workers who were not social distancing or didn’t have physical barriers between them. The inspector also found several employees not wearing masks and was told by a safety manager that he did not require masks.

The inspection prompted L&I to issue an Order and Notice of Immediate Restraint requiring immediate COVID-19 safety and health rule compliance the following day. The company came into compliance within a half-hour of receiving the notice.

Evans Fruit has 15 working days to appeal the violations and the penalty.

Evans Fruit Co. did not respond to e-mails and a call from the newspaper requesting comment.

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