Burger King fries employees

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By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

The owner of a Keizer Burger King has been notified of a complaint filed against the fast food restaurant.

Well, maybe.

The Burger King in question is the one at 3615 River Road North. A letter dated July 16 – obtained by the Keizertimes – was sent from Ronald Haverkost, enforcement manager out of the Salem field office for the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR-OSHA).

According to the letter, OR-OSHA received notice on July 15 of a safety and/or health hazard. The specific nature:

“There is no air conditioning or fans and the temperature is well over 90 degrees in the building,” the letter states. “Employees have to work in these miserable conditions. Corporate has been contacted but no action taken.”

Haverkost said as of July 25 there had been no response from Salem-based Boss Enterprises Inc.

There could be a reason for that.

When contacted on July 25, a manager at the Keizer Burger King referred the Keizertimes to a number which is listed as Kaizen Restaurants out of Beaverton. When the number was called, a recording identified the company as GBMO/GBMW, a Burger King franchise owner with locations in Oregon and Washington. A message left for the company was not returned.

Further, the Keizer Burger King manager said Boss Enterprises hasn’t been the owner for approximately six years. As such, that raises the possibility the letter was sent to the wrong business.

The letter sent to Boss Enterprises asks for a response within 10 business days upon receipt.

“A lot of it is minimum standards,” Haverkost said. “I get about 10 to 15 complaints a week. I talked to the complainant on this one. The company has until July 29 to respond. If they don’t we will call and ask them to respond. If they don’t respond to that, there is always the chance we will do an on-site visit.”

Haverkost said anyone can file a complaint.

“We look at issues that come through,” he said. “First we contact the complainant. We verify the complaint, then do a letter, phone call or visit. It depends on the severity of the complaint. There’s a process within our rules we go through.

“Probably 90 percent of the time when notification is done through letter or phone, they respond quickly,” Haverkost added. “They don’t want us on site. If we go out, we go through a regimented way to do an inspection. If we find hazards, we issue citations.”

As for the initial response from a company, Haverkost said that goes a long way towards determining the next step.

“It all depends on what they tell us,” he said. “If they say we have an HVAC technician on site and repairs are upcoming, that could be an adequate response. Part of this case, if it’s terribly hot and employees are not afforded water, that’s a huge concern. If there are not sanitary conditions like water, that would lead us to being on site. But without details or proof, there’s not much we can do.”

Haverkost said at this time of year his office gets heat-related calls “all the time,” mostly from people who work outside.

“We do all sorts of proactive stuff and hope employers partner with us and do the right things for their employees,” he said. “But that doesn’t always happen, which is why we’re here. Once it rises to that level, we have no problem going in.”

Haverkost noted he personally saw the opposite issue at the Burger King once.

“When I went in there this last winter, I felt it was pretty cold,” he said. “But I didn’t see any distress among employees.”

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