Oregon Company Fined After Fatal Fall

"We're seeing a continuing pattern of these uncontrolled risks in the construction industry, and as a result, there's been a significant number of deaths and severe injuries," said Anne Soiza, L&I's assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Sayde Construction, Inc., an Oregon construction company, has been fined $115,740 after a worker fell nearly 20 feet from a house under construction in Ridgefield and died from his injuries. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries announced that it cited Sayde Constructions for seven violations after Rodrigo Baltazar-Martinez died following the April 2017 fall.

As of Nov. 7, seven construction workers in Washington state have died in falls this year, with the most recent occurring in September, when a worker in Moses Lake fell through an unguarded skylight.

"We're seeing a continuing pattern of these uncontrolled risks in the construction industry, and as a result, there's been a significant number of deaths and severe injuries," said Anne Soiza, L&I's assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. "The death of this Sayde Construction worker could have been prevented if the employer had made certain that workers were using appropriate fall protection."

The Sayde investigation began on April 28 after L&I was notified that Baltazar-Martinez had fallen from a second story while installing roof trusses at the Bella Noche subdivision in Ridgefield. L&I's six-month investigation found two willful violations related to fall protection. One violation with a penalty of $63,000 was for failure to ensure workers were provided with and used appropriate fall protection. The second, with a $27,000 fine, concerned the company's failure to have a written fall protection work plan that addressed each area of the work site where employees were exposed to potentially deadly falls. And the company was cited for not ensuring it had an effective accident prevention program in place -- a serious violation that included a $2,700 penalty.

In addition to the willful and serious violations, the employer was fined $23,040 for not correcting a general violation it was cited for in January for not having someone with a valid first -aid certificate at the work site.

As a result of the willful violations that contributed to the death of a worker, Sayde Construction has been placed on the severe violator list and is subject to follow-up inspections to determine whether the conditions still exist in the future. The company has 15 business days to appeal the citation.

The agency said penalty money paid as a result of a citation goes into the workers' compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

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