OSHA has issued several citations to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Oregon in connection with an incident in which an employee was killed by a falling tree.
Steven Uptegrove was killed on Aug. 20, 2009, when he and another forest service worker were loading trash from an illegal marijuana grow into sling loads that were hauled away by a Chinook helicopter.
Investigators believe rotor wash — wind generated by the helicopter’s two rotors — toppled the dead tree that hit Uptegrove.
OSHA said the forest service didn’t identify and remove dangerous trees before its employees began working in the area.
OSHA also cited Wallowa-Whitman for allowing Uptegrove to wear a hard hat that didn’t comply with current safety standards, although the agency doesn’t believe another type of hard hat would have saved him. Another citation said the forest service failed to require an employee to wear complete eye protection, such as goggles, while exposed to flying debris.
Wallowa-Whitman won’t have to pay a fine because OSHA doesn’t issue penalties to federal agencies.