Details released about Klamath Falls worker death

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – A Wilsonville company was fined after an investigation into the death of a worker in Klamath Falls.

Last month, Sera Warner spoke to NBC5 News about the death of her grandfather, Ronald Stout. Warner said Stout was killed by a falling tree on April 1 at a Klamath Falls worksite, but she didn’t know any more information even though the incident occurred about half a year ago.

According to Warner, Stout’s family couldn’t get any details or move forward with legal action until they got the Oregon OSHA report about the incident, which hadn’t been signed off by Stout’s employer.

“We’re family,” Warner said. “We should be able to ask details of the OSHA report before it’s even submitted out to the public because he is our relative, we are the next of kin.”

Finally, on November 1, OSHA released details about the incident.

According to OSHA, a Haulout Landscape project supervisor tried cutting a block out of a tree in Klamath Falls. However, he became nervous and decided to advertise for help on Craigslist. The supervisor eventually hired two workers tasked with cutting down and removing the 60-foot-tall oak tree. One of those workers was Ronald Stout.

OSHA said Stout was on the ground cutting branches for firewood while the other worker was cutting a tree branch above him.  When the branch fell, it struck Stout in the head, killing him.

Altogether, OSHA cited Haulout Landscape for three serious 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.

“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.”

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