WA Siding Company Cited 7th Time for Safety Violations

A Battle Ground, WA siding company faces a substantial fine from the state after being cited for workplace safety violations involving fall hazards for the seventh time in four years.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) recently cited Olympic Siding Inc., for four repeat-serious and four serious violations, with total penalties of $135,800.

Three of the repeat-serious violations were for unsafe use of a ladder and failure to ensure fall protection for employees working on a roof and scaffold. Each of those violations carries a penalty of $33,600. The other repeat-serious citation was for not ensuring employees wore eye protection when using power tools. That violation has a $21,000 penalty.

The siding company was also cited for not requiring hard hats ($4,200), unsafe means of exiting a 15-foot scaffold ($4,200), failure to have a formal written accident prevention program tailored to the needs of the workplace ($1,400) and improper use of a self-supporting ladder ($4,200). All are considered “serious” violations because there’s a substantial probability that they could result in worker death or serious physical harm.

Falls from ladders, roofs and other elevated work spaces are the leading cause of construction worker fatalities and hospitalizations. Last year, six construction workers died from falls, the highest number since 2006.

So far this year, three construction workers have fallen to their deaths. The most recent fatality occurred May 16th in Issaquah, when a worker fell nearly 50 feet from a scaffold. In another incident last week in Yakima, a roofer fell eight feet and was seriously injured.

The Olympic Siding inspection began in January when an L&I compliance officer observed two workers without fall protection on the roof of a residence in Vancouver.

As a result of these repeat-serious violations, Olympic Siding Inc. is now considered a severe violator and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist in the future.

The company has appealed the citation.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation goes into the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

For a copy of the citation, contact Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.


The New Overtime Rule – Impacts on Workers’ Comp Claims

The Overtime Rule

In 2014, President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update the overtime regulations to reflect the original intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to simplify and modernize the rules so they’re easier for workers and businesses to understand and apply. The department has issued a final rule that will put more money in the pockets of middle class workers – or give them more free time.

The final rule will:

  • Raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year), ensuring protections to 4.2 million workers.

  • Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability.

  • Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime.

  • Provide greater clarity for workers and employers.

Overtime updates will extend protections to 4.2 million workers across the country. The final rule will become effective on December 1, 2016, giving employers more than six months to prepare. The final rule does not make any changes to the duties test for executive, administrative and professional employees.

Impact on Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation benefits paid to an injured worker while they are unable to return to work after an injury are paid based on a percentage of the wages earned prior to the injury.  In Washington State, overtime hours are included in the benefit rate calculation but only at the base hourly wage.  This only applies to hours that are paid as overtime – unpaid hours are not counted.  When this new overtime rule takes effect, an estimated 76,000 people in Washington State will be eligible to receive overtime pay.  If any of these workers are injured on the job, their compensation rate will include the overtime hours they worked prior to the injury.


Burn Pit Lawsuit: Hearing on Jurisdictional Issues December 15 and 16, 2016

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from burnpitclaims.blogspot.com

A revised Case Management Order (CMO) has been entered by the Court in the Burn Pit Lawsuit. The Second Amended CMO provides that the Court will hold an evidentiary hearing on December 15 and 16, 2016 to determine whether the Court has subject matter jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit.

The Order directs that the parties (Service members and KBR) and the United States Government, to exchange information so that the Court may make a determination as to whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case against Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) for alleged negligence involving Iraq and Afghanistan burn pit sites.

The Court has directed that KBR and the United States Government identify what bases KBR was involved with in Iraq and Afghanistan. Testimony, written and electronic documentary evidence, and photographs will be reviewed to determine the level and extent of KBR’s roll, if any, in the operation of the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The cases have been brought by: veterans, private military contractor employees and civilian government employees, who were exposed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The action is against KBR for damages "caused [by] harm through the negligent use of burn pits and improper water treatment."

The case is a consolidated Multidistrict Ligation (MDL) matter that consists of multiple individual cases. KBR was hired by the United States to provide logistical support for the military during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

The Court has directed that the…

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$3.5 Billion Pittsburg Corning Corporation Asbestos Trust Fund Is Now Operating

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from gelmans.com

$3.5 Billion Pittsburg Corning Corporation Asbestos Trust Fund Is Now Operating
$3.5 Billion Pittsburg Corning Corporation Asbestos Trust Fund Is Now Operating

After 16 years of bankrutcy, the $3.5 Billion asbestos trust of Pittsburg Cornning Corporation (PPG) opened for the business of paying asbestos victims and their famiies. PPG anounce that that the payment plan provided for under the asbestos companies bankruptcy reorganization plan ffective April 27, 2016. PPG has emerged from Chapter 11 bankrutcy and has been operating under asbestos-realted Chapter 11 protection since April 16, 2000.

The Pittsburgh Corning Modified Third Amended POR establishes the Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust. Scheduled to receive assets valued in excess of $3.5 billion, the Trust will be among the largest asbestos trusts in the country. It assumes all asbestos-related liabilities related to Pittsburgh Corning and resolves all asbestos personal injury claims, including those filed in the future. The Trust is to be funded by contributions of Pittsburgh Corning, its shareholders (PPG Industries Inc. and Corning Incorporated) and participating insurance carriers. Prior to emergence from Chapter 11, Pittsburgh Corning and Pittsburgh Corning Europe were equity affiliates of PPG Industries, Inc. and Corning, Inc. Effective today, Pittsburgh Corning Corporation will be owned by the Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust. Pittsburgh Corning Europe was not subject to Chapter 11, but its shares will be contributed to the Trust as…

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The Fall That Changed Everything

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from blog.dol.gov

A Clark Construction worker models a properly-fitted safety harness at a 2015 stand down in the District of Columbia.

As a longtime field investigator for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I’ve seen the aftermath of tragedies caused by falls. Each case is painful, but a few stand out for their heartbreak.

Last year, my team and I were called in to a Pennsylvania construction site where three-story apartments were going up. The fall had been captured on closed circuit video: A 27-year-old worker was being lifted onto the roof by the long arm of a rough terrain forklift when the wobbly platform he stood upon suddenly tipped over, throwing him 40 feet to the ground.

It was his first day on the job.

The fall caused spinal injuries so severe it’s likely he will never walk again. Even now, a year later, he needs help holding a cup of water.

His story hit our team hard because he is so young, and his injuries could have been prevented so easily. We couldn’t help but think, “What will his future be like? What if he was a member of my family?”

Even worse, his story is just one of thousands. Falls are completely preventable with proper training and equipment, yet they are still the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. In 2014 alone, 647 workers were killed from falls in the United States and many more were injured.

Our work inspires us to do everything possible to prevent falls. One way we bring attention to fall hazards…

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Port of Seattle Approves Contracted Help to Ease Long Lines at TSA Checkpoints

Ninety temporary private contractors will allow TSA to deploy more staff to checkpoint screening.

The Port of Seattle Commission took action April 12th to speed up Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint lines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport by hiring temporary private contractors for the summer travel season. The additional contractors will assist passengers so more TSA staff can work screening lanes.

The Port’s action comes after long wait times have built up due to continued double-digit passenger growth and nationwide TSA staffing struggles due to budget restrictions. Washington’s U.S. Senator’s Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray have recently pressed the TSA to find ways to help Sea-Tac, the nation’s fastest growing large hub airport for the last two years.

“These long lines are unacceptable and they’re happening even before our busy summer season, said Port of Seattle Commissioner Tom Albro. “The Port is stepping up to help travelers get through the airport as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are listening to our travelers and making up for TSA staff shortages.”

Areas where private contractors will be deployed include non-security customer service tasks such as bin loading (moving plastic tubs from one end of the screening lane to another), divesting (communicating to travelers what to remove from pockets and bags) and line management (moving travelers to shorter and faster checkpoints). The temporary hiring will last from May through September to cover the busiest travel season (June, July and August are the busiest months of the year at Sea-Tac). The additional staff is expected to be in place by May 1.

The contracted staffing will allow the TSA staff to focus solely on security and open more checkpoint lanes in order to gain higher passenger through put. Currently Sea-Tac has 32 screening lanes but the TSA only has staffing for 17-19 lanes.

“We are taking a very innovative approach to serve our customers while maintaining a high level of security,” said Sea-Tac Managing Director Lance Lyttle. “I understand the frustrations of travelers who are waiting in long TSA security lines. We’re partnering with our airlines and the TSA to take swift action which will help our customers. Sea-Tac is experiencing record passenger growth and this additional security staff is a proactive way to address customer and airline needs to remain a world-class facility.”

In addition to the contracted staff, Port of Seattle Security staff will temporarily take over duties at exit lanes to free up additional TSA staff for the checkpoints. The temporary staffing will be re-evaluated at the end of the summer travel season.

Travelers are encouraged to visit Sea-Tac’s Travel Tips webpage prior to flights to know what items are and are not allowed in carry-on luggage. If you qualify, applying for TSA’s PreCheck program may help speed up your security checkpoint process.

Sea-Tac airport had a 12.9 percent increase in passengers in 2015, and through February, passenger totals are up nine percent compared with this time last year. Because of such growth, it is recommended travelers arrive two hours early for a domestic flight and three hours early for international travel to allow time to park, get through airline ticketing and the security checkpoints.



Seattle Tunnel Project Injuries Result in $700,000 in Claims

Story first published by the Associated Press, via KING5.com.

Records show injuries suffered by workers on Seattle’s downtown tunnel project last year resulted in about $700,000 in workers’ compensation claims. The contractor was cited and fined twice in 2015 for safety violations.

A review of worker safety records by The Associated Press shows workers sustained injuries like an amputated foot, a fractured hand and a fingertip crushed so badly it had to be surgically removed.

Sixty of those injured workers filed workers’ comp claims in 2015. Since 2012, 185 workers have filed injury claims that are expected to top $2.5 million, according to data from the state.

Laura Newborn, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, says the tunnel contractor logged more than 1.2 million hours of work in 2015. She says most of the workers’ compensation claims were for injuries that didn’t result in time away from work.

Photo credit: WSDOT via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


CNBC: If you’re sitting at your desk, GET UP NOW!

Causey Law Firm has taken small steps to implement ergonomic planning in our office.  We have one Varidesk sit/stand desktop conversion in use, like the one shown in the video, as well as a fully convertible sit/stand desk and adjustable-height rolling cart in our file room.  Several people use a FitBit or similar device to encourage and track movement throughout the day. It’s not easy to integrate motion into a desk job, but it can really help!  Take a look at this great piece from CNBC for inspiration:

If you’re reading this article at your desk and you’re sitting, get up. It is one of the best things you can do for your health. If you don’t want to stand, then do something active while you’re sitting. Millions of workers are choosing to do both, thanks to a slew of new office products that are gaining traction — and dollars — fast.

“This is no longer just a one off, it’s a product category,” said Thompson Research Group’s Kathryn Thompson, an analyst who covers the office furniture industry. “Fitness equipment is a critical part of the new office, and it’s really a critical part of the office of the future.”

The “healthy office segment” is the fastest growing sub-sector of the $10 billion office furniture industry, and Thompson estimates it could grow to one-third of the industry in the next three to five years. Workers and employers alike are demanding it. 

“Good health makes good economic sense,” Thompson said.

Attention to workplace fitness really ramped up in just the last few years, after the Mayo Clinic published a study on the detrimental effects of sitting for long periods of time. Mayo’s Dr. James Levine is credited with coining the term “sitting is the new smoking.” He is also inventor of a treadmill desk.

Read the rest of the article here…



WA Workplace Deaths Fall to Near-Historic Low in 2015

Workplace deaths in Washington declined to a near-historic low in 2015, according to a new Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) report.

Last year there were 58 work-related deaths in the state — 18 fewer than in 2014. 

L&I data shows only 2011 and 2013 had fewer work-related deaths reported (53 and 54, respectively). Workplace deaths in Washington have declined by about 3.5 percent a year since 2006, when 90 were recorded.

“The decline in these numbers means more people avoided serious workplace incidents and were able to go home safe and healthy,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “We’re working closely with businesses and workers in our state to improve safety, and this trend shows we’re making progress. That’s encouraging, but there’s more to do.”

L&I workplace safety efforts include offering workshops and training throughout the state, providing free safety and health consultationsand improving outreach to Spanish-speaking workers.

There were fewer fatalities in 2015 involving motor vehicles and machines. In addition, there were no natural catastrophes like the 2014 Oso landslide, which accounted for five deaths. However, in 2015, three U.S. Forest Service wildland firefighters died when their fire engine crashed.

Falls continue to be a leading cause of work-related deaths, accounting for 25 percent (15) of the fatal incidents last year. That’s five more than the 10-year average and the highest number of fall-related deaths since 2006. One-third of fatal falls were from ladders. Even a fall from a ladder just six to ten feet high can be fatal. Six of the nine construction deaths in 2015 were fall related: two were roofers, two were carpenters, one was a plumber and one was a glass installer.

Farm workers, loggers and other workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector accounted for 15 of the fatalities in 2015. That’s two less than in 2014; however, there has been an average annual increase in the number of deaths in this sector since 2006.

The data comes from the just released 2015 Washington State Work-Related Fatalities Report.  The report includes information on work-related deaths in 2015 that were due to a traumatic incident that same year. It’s based on preliminary information analyzed by theFatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program. FACE is part of L&I’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program.

Washington is one of seven states funded by the national FACE research program to identify and study fatal workplace injuries. In recent years, our state has had among the lowest worker fatality rates in the country; the latest data shows that trend is continuing.

“L&I and businesses can use the information in this report to find even better ways to improve safety and health at work and prevent workplace fatalities,” said SHARP Research Director Dr. David Bonauto. “Our hope is that the report will encourage an ongoing discussion of safety and health at every worksite in our state.”

L&I has several resources on its website to help employers and workers address a wide variety of safety hazards. The agency also has safety consultants available to visit worksites for assistance with workplace hazards. Visit http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety for more information.

Photo credit: memo.elfakharany via Foter.com /CC BY-NC-ND


NPR: Coffee Workers’ Concerns Brew Over Chemical’s Link To Lung Disease

Heard on Morning Edition, April 15, 2016.

Step into Mike Moon’s Madison, Wis., coffee roasting plant and the aroma of beans — from Brazil to Laos — immediately washes over you.

Moon says he aims to run an efficient and safe plant — and that starts the minute beans spill out of the roaster. He points to a cooling can that is “designed to draw air from the room over the beans and exhausts that air out of the facility. So it is really grabbing a lot of all of the gases coming off the coffee,” he explains.

Why are these gases so worrisome? Because they contain a chemical called diacetyl — a natural byproduct of the coffee roasting process that, in large concentrations, can infiltrate the lungs and cause a severe form of lung disease.

You might remember hearing about diacetyl several years ago, when a synthetic version of the chemical, which is used to give a buttery flavor to certain snack foods, was implicated in causing severe lung problems among workers at a microwave popcorn facility.

Now it looks like that chemical could affect the coffee world as well. People at home grinding or brewing up a pot need not worry, but the chemical could pose a danger to people working in commercial coffee roasting plants.

Read the rest of the story here…


Photo credit: Nic Taylor Photography viaFoter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


Published by Causey Law Firm