- A construction worker has died of heat-related illness following the record-setting heatwave in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon OSHA has reported.
- While inspecting a potential leak from a condensate line, an unnamed roofer in Hillsboro, Oregon, collapsed from heat stress on June 28, the hottest day on record in the state, when the thermometer reached 116 degrees. He later died in the hospital from heat stress, according to a preliminary Oregon OSHA report shared with Construction Dive.
- The roofer's death is one of four heat-related fatalities currently under investigation by Oregon OSHA, according to the report. He was employed by Robinson Construction, according to the agency. Robinson Construction did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Construction Dive.
Oregon OSHA received 219 heat-related complaints from June 24 to July 2. In 2020, the department received 2,000 complaints all year, according to Leah Andrews, a spokesperson for Oregon OSHA, meaning the heatwave represented about 10% of last year's total complaints during a single nine-day window.
Especially early in the summer, workers who are not acclimated to the heat can succumb to heat-related illness more easily, Max Gottfried, environmental health and safety manager at Rosendin Electric, told Construction Dive shortly after the heatwave.
A lack of experience working in heat, combined with that susceptibility can spell trouble for workers and contractors. It's vital to be vigilant and train workers to look out for each other, Gottfried said.
As of July 3, Oregon OSHA has reported three potential fatalities and two potential hospitalizations from the heat for 2021. Those incidents are currently under investigation, and not confirmed.
By comparison, Oregon OSHA reports confirm one fatality and three hospitalizations from heat in 2020 and one fatality with no hospitalizations in 2019.
The investigation into the roofer's death will likely take four-to-five months, Andrews told Construction Dive.
"These investigations often lead to corrective actions in which employers implement new safety rules and procedures to avoid future injuries and fatalities," Andrews said. "When safety violations are found during an investigation, we strive to hold accountable the employers who had the responsibility to prevent the tragedy."