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OSHA investigating roofing worker’s fatal fall at Caldera HS construction site

(Update: Adding video, Oregon OSHA comment, statistics)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Bend man working for a Redmond-based roofing company was killed Tuesday morning in a fall at the construction site of Caldera High School, the new high school being built in southeast Bend, police reported.

Police and Bend Fire medics responded just before 7 a.m. to the school site on Southeast 15th Street and Knott Road, Lt. Juli McConkey said.

The man was pronounced dead on the scene, McConkey said.

Police later identified the man as James A. Bickers, 37, of Bend, an employee of River Roofing in Redmond.

The incident is under investigation by police, Oregon OSHA and the Deschutes County medical examiner’s and district attorney’s office.

The $114 million, 260,000-square-foot high school is about halfway toward completion and is slated to open in the fall of 2021.

Though some workers were still seen on the site later Tuesday morning, Bend-La Pine Schools spokeswoman Julianne Repman said the job site had been shut down for the OSHA investigation.

Repman called it "a terrible tragedy and a sad day. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and coworkers."

District Attorney John Hummel said he was unaware of any evidence of criminal negligence at this stage, but will await the results of the OSHA investigation before any final charging decision.

Leah Andrews, a representative with Oregon OSHA, said falls are the leading cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry.

When a worker is off the ground six feet or higher, Andrews said, they are required to wear a harness. Construction workers undergo training to ensure they know proper protocol at sites, she said.

"Oregon OSHA provides training on the fundamentals of fall safety, and it's available in English and Spanish," Andrews said. "There are videos and materials that you can download, and it includes information on the type of equipment you should be wearing, how it should be installed and at what height one should be wearing it."

Oregon OSHA reports there have been a total of 43 workplace fatalities so far in 2020, two of them reported as falls, including the one at Caldera High. In 2019, there were 70 reported work-related deaths in the state, 11 initially reported as a fall.

"Through both education and enforcement, Oregon OSHA has a role in trying to prevent workplace injury and fatality," Andrews said.

"With a workplace fatality, it is our role to investigate to see if safety rules were followed and what could be done to prevent this from happening," she added.

Oregon OSHA has up to 180 days to complete a workplace fatality report.

NewsChannel 21 also reached out to the roofing company, but it declined to comment.

Article Topic Follows: Accidents and Crashes

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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