ASHLAND, Ore. — Wes Hamner, a 58-year-old Oregon Department of Transportation worker, died Jan. 2 from injuries suffered in a workplace accident.
On Dec. 30, Hamner fell from a front-end loader that had just been secured to a trailer at the ODOT facility near Exit 6 on Interstate 5. His co-workers reportedly tried to help him until an ambulance arrived.
The longtime ODOT employee was transported to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration and ODOT’s internal safety division are investigating the accident. No additional details about the circumstances leading up to the fall have been released.
In a statement, an ODOT spokesman sent his condolences to Hamner’s family and said the department valued his 12 years of service with the Ashland ODOT crew.
Commentary on the fatal workplace accident that claimed the life of Wes Hamner
I am saddened to learn of the fatal accident that took the life of tenured ODOT employee Wes Hamner. During this challenging time of grief, I extend my condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Mr. Hamner. I am sure the pain is overwhelming and the grief insufferable. I hope the family can find solace and peace.
This accident is unfortunate in many ways. As an experienced ODOT employee, I am sure Mr. Hamner was performing a routine task at the time of the accident. I have to wonder what happened differently this time. Did Mr. Hamner lose his footing because of the weather or other conditions? Was his attention diverted by a fellow employee or third party? Or was there a medical or some other emergency that caused a lapse in judgment? Many of the answers to these questions will be provided during the investigation. However, it is essential to recognize that no matter the reason for the fall, the issue here is whether safety precautions were instituted to mitigate the risk of serious injury or death.
Employers have a duty to protect employees from known and foreseeable risks. This requires anticipating likely accidents and instituting safeguards to mitigate the associated risks. Falling from a front loader is clearly a risk accompanying Mr. Hamner’s job. Trained professionals will need to conduct a detailed investigation to determine whether proper safeguards were implemented and adhered to at the time of the accident.
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