ODOT reviews safety after 2 hwy. worker deaths

Oregon OSHA to investigate ODOT, this week's incidents

Construction workers killed on job

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division is investigating the Oregon Department of Transportation following two separate incidents in which construction workers were killed on the job this week on northeast Oregon highway projects.

Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings says 64-year-old Glen McCoy of Sparks, Nevada, died late Wednesday on Interstate 84 near Boardman.

McCoy worked for a construction company installing rumble strips at a paving project. Hastings says McCoy was run over by a pickup driven by another employee that had a piece of equipment in tow.

Earlier this week, an ODOT employee died at a work site on state Highway 320 near Echo.

OSP Lt. Michael Turner says 54-year-old Donald Kendall was part of a maintenance crew paving Highway 320 on Tuesday when a dump truck slowly backed up and ran over him.

"We're going to be looking at a number of things," Oregon OSHA spokeswoman Melanie Mesaros said Friday. "Things like supervision and  training, what kind of hazards were present on the job site and what kind of safety protocols were in place."

ODOT Region 4 spokesman Peter Murphy in Bend said the agency will also conduct its own investigation.

"It's inherently a dangerous business -- we're working with heavy equipment," Murphy said. "We'll try to learn what happened, and if there's a message beyond just general safety, we'll spread that out to the community as a whole."

He said ODOT routinely holds safety meetings on at least a weekly basis, but the department is ramping up efforts in the wake of the tragedies.

"Safety stand-downs have happened across ODOT the last couple of days," Murphy said. "We had one here yesterday, specifically about those kind of incidents that just took place, and then generic to the particular jobs that each individual faces."

Meanwhile the investigation continues. If found at fault, ODOT could face big penalties.

"If there were violations, we can can issue a citation that may come with a penalty," Mesaros said.

Oregon OSHA has cited ODOT four times in the last two years with fines adding up to just $410.

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