According to a safety report by Oregon Occupational Safety and Health, the developer of the $ 114 million Caldera High School project in Bend had unsafe conditions that contributed to the death of a 38-year-old roofer in August.
General contractor Kirby Nagelhout Construction Co. has been charged with a single “serious” security breach and fined $ 2,450. Roofing subcontractor River Roofing was also charged with a serious breach and fined $ 3,600.
The inspection report released this week as part of a public record request to The Bulletin sheds light on the accident that killed James Andrew Bickers, and the Oregon OSHA condition inspectors helped.
Both River Roofing and Kirby Nagelhout have filed complaints with Oregon OSHA. Both deny the claims and maintain information in the quote is inaccurate. “(Kirby Nagelhout) met or exceeded all of the criteria set out in (relevant law),” wrote Jeshua Scheer, Kirby Nagelhout’s director of security.
Kirby Nagelhout is a Bend-based general contractor with a focus on school projects across the state. It is the 16th largest contractor in the state by annual bills.
River Roofing is a medium-sized roofing company in Redmond with 44 employees. At the time of the accident, the Caldera project had a new roof installed in the gym, with an average daily crew of around 15 people.
On August 4, a five-person river roofing crew arrived an hour earlier – at 6 a.m. – as the inspection report said the day would be expected to be hot.
For Bickers, who had been hired a month earlier, it was his first day working “cart crew” on the roof of the gym, bringing supplies where they were needed.
At 6:58 a.m., Bickers and the four other members of the cart crew relocated a 200-pound rubber-wheeled wagon that was carrying a 900-pound bundle of rigid insulation. At the time, part of the roof was covered with plywood and the rest with a water shield covered with dew, which made it slightly smooth, the report said.
The crew took positions around the 1,100 pound car, two in the front and three in the rear. After it was lifted over an 8 inch gap, it started to roll away from them. When the cart came within 10 feet of the edge, the two men in front dove to the side and the other two men behind let go of the cart, the report said.
Bickers is believed to last longer than the others, and his momentum carried him over the edge, the report said.
Bickers fell 45 feet onto the concrete below. Paramedics tried CPR before pronouncing him dead at 7:05 a.m.
The Oregon OSHA safety inspectors were on site for a total of seven days, and 14 Kirby Nagelhout and River Roofing employees were interviewed. They reported that numerous cargoes had been transported in the same way in the weeks prior to the accident. The roofer who oversaw Bickers that day said inspectors using the cart are the best way to move materials on the roof and he never had close conversations with it. However, several River Roofing employees reported that the cart was difficult and “sketchy” to use, the report said.
The report says River Roofing broke safety rules by not ensuring that Bickers was trained in using the cart on a pitched roof. Besides, it didn’t offer him all possible security measures. The report includes an enlarged photo of the car involved in the accident with a warning sticker that indicates that the device is intended for use on flat surfaces.
In October, Bickers’ parents, Mary and Bill, were named to represent his estate. They hired Portland District Attorney Thomas D’Amore to sue for death.
D’Amore expects to file a lawsuit in two to three weeks, he told The Bulletin.
“This child was loved by many people, not just his family,” said D’Amore. “It’s a real tragedy for a lot of people.”
Bickers died two weeks before his wedding. His fiancée, Brooke Takacs, told The Bulletin Thursday that she was relieved that the report found an error with the contractors. She called Bickers an “amazing man” who was no stranger to dangerous construction sites and working at heights.