Oregon OSHA Finishes Investigation Into Death of Window Washer

The Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) reported the conclusion of the division’s investigation into the Oct. 19, 2005 incident that killed a 31-year-old worker preparing to wash windows at a downtown Portland office building.

Angel Gonzalez-Cacho was on the roof of 1621 SW First Avenue in Portland preparing to descend the side of the building in a boatswain’s (“bosun’s”) chair with a window-washing partner in a second boatswain’s chair. Gonzalez-Cacho worked as a window-washing supervisor for We Do Windows, a Portland-based window cleaning business. When Gonzalez-Cacho began to lower himself against the side of the building, the boatswain’s chair did not support him, and he fell 72 feet to a concrete pathway below the building. He was pronounced dead at the scene due to massive head trauma.

The Oregon OSHA investigation reportedly found that one end of the cable used to support Gonzalez-Cacho’s boatswain chair had not been securely connected to an anchorage point on the building, and Gonzalez-Cacho was not attached to a required second, independent safety line intended to arrest the worker’s fall in the event of an equipment failure.

The investigation of We Do Windows also reportedly determined that the employer did not ensure that all employees were proficient in safe work practices. The employer had also not inspected equipment used at the work site and did not supervise workers to ensure that safe work practices were followed.

As a result of the investigation, Oregon OSHA cited We Do Windows under the Oregon Safe Employment Act for failing to provide direct training and supervision of employees at the employer’s work sites. Oregon OSHA classifies this violation as ‘Serious.’ It carries a proposed civil penalty of $5,000 and requires the employer to put in place safeguards to ensure that workers are protected in the future.

The employer has up to 20 days following issuance of the citation to decide whether to file an appeal with Oregon OSHA regarding the violation alleged in the citation.