Oregon construction company fined after workplace fatality in Ridgefield

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has fined an Oregon construction company $115,740 for safety violations after a worker was severely injured in a fall in Ridgefield in April and later died.

Rodrigo Baltazar-Martinez, 55, fell nearly 20 feet on April 28 while installing roof trusses on a two-story home in the Bella Noche subdivision. He was flown by helicopter to a local hospital, where he died two weeks later.

A six-month investigation subsequently found Sayde Construction Inc., based in Sherwood, Ore., had failed to make sure workers were using fall protection and did not have proper plans in place at each area of the construction site where such deadly falls could occur. The two violations carried a penalty of $63,000 and $27,000, respectively.

The agency also cited Sayde Construction for not correcting a general violation it was cited for in January, in which the company did not have anyone on the site that was certified in first aid.

Sayde Construction, which has 15 days to appeal the citation, has been placed on the agency’s list of “severe violators.” The list subjects companies to mandatory follow-up inspections for three years.

Money paid for the penalty is earmarked for the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund to help injured workers and families, the agency said.

So far this year, seven construction workers in Washington have fallen to their deaths. The most recent was in September, when a worker in Moses Lake fell through an unguarded skylight.

Anne Soiza, assistant director for the agency’s division of occupational safety and health, said it’s been a disappointing year for worker safety.

“We’re seeing a continuing pattern of these uncontrolled risks in the construction industry, and as a result, there’s been a significant number of deaths and severe injuries,” she said in a statement. “The death of this Sayde Construction worker could have been prevented if the employer had made certain that workers were using appropriate fall protection.”