Oregon OSHA fines Wilsonville company $14K following worker’s death

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Oregon OSHA announced Monday they had fined a Wilsonville company $14,375 for violating job safety standards following an investigation into the death of a Klamath Falls worker.

The division cited Haulout Landscape Inc. after the accident on April 1 for failing to uphold safety measures designed to protect workers while climbing, cutting, and removing trees.

The company had hired two workers who responded to their Craigslist advertisement, who were tasked with cutting and removing a 60-foot oak tree at a job site in Klamath Falls.

One of the workers was struck in the head by a tree branch, which fell from above when the other employee attempted to saw it into pieces with a gas-powered chainsaw.

Before the accident, the project supervisor had tried cutting a block out of the tree himself, but became nervous and decided to advertise for help.

“Workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace,” said Oregon OSHA Interim Administrator Julie Love. “And whether an employer assigns a task to a long-time employee or to a temporary worker, the employer is responsible for ensuring protections are in place.

“That includes anticipating risks, and providing proper safety training and equipment. To do otherwise is to needlessly put workers in harm’s way.”

Altogether, Oregon OSHA cited Haulout Landscape Inc. for three serious job safety violations:

  • Did not train employees on equipment such as chainsaws, and tree removal rigging or climbing equipment. The company also did not ensure employees followed safe work practices for climbing, cutting, or removing large trees. Penalty: $3,125.
  • Did not ensure an employee was tied in with any approved climbing rope or safety saddle. The employee was exposed to a potential fall of about 15 feet from a tree limb. Penalty: $5,625.
  • Did not ensure that employees using gas-powered chainsaws to cut down and remove a tree were provided with – and used – personal protective equipment such as hearing, eye, head, leg, or fall protection. Penalty: $5,625.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers free resources – involving no fault, no citations, and no penalties – to help improve workplace safety and health:

Consultation services – Provides free and confidential help with safety and health programs, including how to control and eliminate hazards, and hands-on training

Technical staff – Helps employers understand requirements and how to apply them to their worksites

The division also offers free educational resources, including a safety guide for landscaping contractors, and tree and shrub services that addresses safe procedures and practices for climbing, cutting, and removing trees.

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