A logging fatality last month in Chapman, in Columbia County, is a reminder of the ever-present dangers of Oregon industrial accidents. Pamplin Media, citing local law enforcement officials, reports that a 54-year-old Scappoose woman died while she “and another person were felling large fir trees.”
Logging has been an important part of our state’s economy for over a century, and it provides a livelihood for thousands of Oregonians. It also, however, remains one of the most dangerous professions in America and fatalities like this are tragic reminders of why the timber industry still needs to be closely regulated.
Pamplin reports that the Columbia County Sheriff’s office “conducted an investigation and ruled the death an accident,” but adds that the incident “is also being investigated by Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Division as an industrial accident.” This is appropriate because, as I have noted frequently on this blog, “industrial accident” is a term that has a very specific meaning in Oregon law.
Oregon’s industrial accident laws come into play when a company does not take adequate measures to protect its employees or contractors. This can take several forms. The most obvious is failing to provide a safe working environment – but it also includes failing to give employees or contractors the correct training for the jobs they have been assigned and failing to maintain equipment properly. Where contractors are concerned this responsibility extends in two directions – to the primary employer to ensure that these things are provided but also to outsourcing companies providing employees. These must take reasonable measures to ensure that the workers they provide to the primary employer are being adequately looked-after.
As a Portland Oregon industrial accident attorney I am glad to see that the state is investigating this incident. The fact that logging is a dangerous profession makes it especially important that proper safety procedures are followed, and that companies know the rules put in place to protect their employees and contractors are going to be enforced.
South County Spotlight: Woman killed in logging accident in Chapman