Late last week The Oregonian carried a report about an industrial accident in Canby that raises serious Oregon employer liability law questions. According to the newspaper a 55-year old Silverton man died “after a 1,600-pound steel plate fell from a clamp” and landed on him.
Colleagues rushed to help the stricken man, lifting the plate and administering CPR, according to the newspaper. First responders initially called for an air ambulance “just minutes later, however, firefighters cancelled the helicopter and called for a medical examiner.” The state’s Occupational Safety and Health Division has opened an investigation into the incident, but one of its most worrisome aspects, based on what we currently know, is the fact that the steel-fabrication plant in question had been cited “for three ‘serious’ violations in the last few years. This trend is particularly troubling because it is relatively new. The plant in question has operated since the 1960s, but all three of its safety citations have come in the last five years.
This raises a number of potential Oregon employer liability law issues. Oregon Revised Statutes, section 654.010, requires employers to “furnish employment and a place of employment which are safe and healthful for employees.” To achieve this employers are required to “adopt and use such practices, means, methods, operations and processes as are reasonably necessary to render such employment and place of employment safe and healthful.” Simply put, this requires employers to do everything they reasonably can to keep a workplace safe, even for workers in potentially high-risk jobs.