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Company fined for tree worker’s death in Klamath Falls

The state has fined a Wilsonville-based company more than $14,000 for multiple safety violations that culminated in the death of a worker tasked with cutting down an oak tree in Klamath Falls.

Haulout Landscape Inc. was cited for three “serious job safety violations” surrounding safety training and equipment, according to a news release issued Monday by the state agency.

Oregon OSHA’s findings follow a months-long investigation into an April 1 tree-cutting accident during which two workers were hired to cut down a 60-foot oak tree at the Klamath Falls job site.

One worker was working beneath a “large, partially attached tree branch” using a gas-powered chainsaw to cut branches into firewood.

The second worker, meanwhile, was using a chainsaw to cut the still-attached tree limb into pieces when the branch toppled and struck the worker beneath in the head.

The Haulout Landscape supervisor told OSHA investigators that he posted the job on Craiglist after becoming nervous about trying to remove the tree himself.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that all workers are adequately trained — whether the worker is a longtime employee or a temporary worker, according to a statement issued by Oregon OSHA interim Administrator Julie Love in the release.

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

Haulout Landscape was fined a combined $14,375 for failing to train employees in the use of chainsaws, tree removal rigging or climbing equipment; for failing to ensure that employee was tied in to an approved climbing rope; and for failing to ensure that workers using a chainsaw were provided with protective equipment such as hearing, eye, head and fall protection.

Oregon OSHA also offers free resources to help employers understand requirements and control hazards by calling 1-800-922-2689. For more information, see osha.oregon.gov.