All posts by Kit Case

Port of Seattle Seeks Public Comment

Port of Seattle Schedules Review of Proposed 2020 Budget and Five-Year Plan, Continues Major Investments for the Region’s Future

The Port of Seattle will host two community open houses to review its 2020 budget and five-year capital development plans for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and the Maritime and Economic Development divisions. The plans outline the Port’s blueprint to further invest in infrastructure, maximizing efficiency and service to benefit the economic and environmental vitality of our region. You may read the full press release here, excerpted below.

Port of Seattle Open Houses

Community members are invited to learn about the Port’s preliminary 2020 budget and five-year capital development and investment plans at two upcoming open houses. Port staff will share information about investments at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and in the Maritime and Economic Development divisions. Staff will also share how the Port’s preliminary budget and five-year capital development plans respond to regional need by improving customer service, expanding economic activity across our region, and supporting healthy habitats and communities.

WHEN:             October 22, 2019, 5:30 to 7:30
WHERE:           Pier 69 Atrium (sign in at the front desk)

WHEN:             October 28, 2019, 5:30 to 7:30
WHERE:           Sea-Tac Airport Conference Center

Capital development projects make up the largest share of the Port’s spending. The preliminary 2020 budget includes capital spending of $644 million, with $570 million going to Sea-Tac International Airport, and $74 million going to Maritime and other divisions. In addition to the Port’s capital spending, the Port will contribute 50 percent to capital investments in the Northwest Seaport Alliance for marine cargo projects, including the current construction transforming Terminal 5 into one of the nation’s premier international container terminals.

The Port’s preliminary 2020 operating budget forecasts revenues of $812 million and expenses of $472 million. The 2020 operating budget allows the Port to respond to needs of business and community stakeholders with stronger organizational capability, advanced sustainability, and an improved customer experience at Port facilities.

The Port of Seattle is in the second year of a five-year investment plan designed to make our region a competitive maritime hub. The investments focus on asset preservation and prioritize economic development where our natural advantages align to economic growth opportunities.

Silica Exposure Causes Silicosis

Stone fabrication workers, especially those working with engineered stone, are at risk for silicosis. Given the serious health hazard and significant number of workers at risk, additional efforts are needed to reduce exposures and improve disease surveillance. – CDC

Silica exposure causes silicosis, as reported in recent CDC research on the topic. Our firm has encountered silicosis cases. The effects of this exposure can be dramatic, even with minimal exposure.

Obtaining coverage under a workers’ compensation claim provides medical treatment, monetary compensation for time lost from work, vocational retraining services (if needed), the potential for an award for permanent impairment or, in the case of total disability, a lifetime pension with an option for survivorship benefits. In fatality cases, benefits for a surviving spouse and/or children is paid.

The CDC’s research focused on eighteen cases in four states, including one case from Washington. The CDC news release can be read in full here, and is excerpted, below:

Severe Silicosis in Engineered Stone Fabrication Workers

Respirable crystalline silica exposure causes silicosis, a disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease. Eighteen cases of silicosis, including two fatalities, among stone fabrication workers in four states. Several patients also had autoimmune disease and latent tuberculosis infection.

Stone fabrication workers, especially those working with engineered stone, are at risk for silicosis. Given the serious health hazard and significant number of workers at risk, additional efforts are needed to reduce exposures and improve disease surveillance.

Violence Research By UW

“In May, the State of Washington awarded $1 million to the UW School of Medicine for the formation of the Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program. The program seeks to answer urgent questions involving firearm risks, injuries, policies and programs in Washington state.” – UW Medicine

Violence research by UW Medicine researchers provides findings that support the contention of ongoing impacts to physical and mental health subsequent to experiencing violence. Workplace violence is increasingly prevalent, with immediate and long-lasting consequences for the victims of this violence.

The lasting effects of workplace violence can require ongoing medical and psychiatric care, can impede the victim’s ability to return to work and, in some cases, can result in permanent impairments. In my experience, the mental health impacts can be the most insidious and difficult to overcome. The difficulties are compounded if an injured worker encounters pushback from the Department of Labor and Industries, sometimes in the form of treatment denials, other times through not recognizing the difficulty in returning to work or not acknowledging the presence of permanent impairment.

UW Medicine recently released the news of the completion and presentation of the researcher’s findings. Violence research findings that span every age and a variety of circumstances, but findings that can be applied to workplace violence cases, as well. The full text of the UW Medicine release can be read here, and is excerpted, below:

Violence has complex, far-reaching impacts on health

A new paper by UW Medicine researchers offers a broad, updated look at the interrelated impacts of violence on physical and mental health across age groups, from infants to elderly people.

The authors compiled recent compelling findings about health effects of child abuse, bullying, youth violence, adult interpersonal violence, and elder abuse, among others.  The paper was published Oct. 7 in Health Affairs. Its authors represent the Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program, based at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center.

“Violence has important consequences for physical and mental health. These consequences vary with the type of violence and age, but all of them can be severe, debilitating and lifelong,” said Dr. Fred Rivara, the paper’s lead author. He is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health.

“The findings of our review point out the need to both treat the victims of violence and prevent these types of violence from occurring in the first place,” Rivara said.

By organizing their findings by age group, the authors highlighted the cumulative, interrelated harms of violence across the lifespan. For example, research has found that victims of child abuse have an elevated risk of depression, suicidality, drug use, and certain chronic illnesses later in life. Because of that risk, they are also more likely to later experience intimate partner violence, which in turn heightens risk of depression, anxiety, asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain, and other health issues.

An overview of many types of violence also helps broaden research and policy perspectives beyond the immediate physical trauma, and draws attention to long-term health impacts. These harms affect not only individuals, but also indirectly traumatize family, friends, and communities.

Asbestos Citations for Violations by Evergreen State College

The Evergreen State College fined for multiple asbestos violations

Asbestos citations against the Evergreen State College mean the college is facing more than $135,000 in fines for multiple violations related to asbestos and other safety issues around its Olympia, WA campus. Employers have 15 business days from the time they receive a citation to appeal.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) published a notice stating that it has cited the college for 29 serious violations; the fines for each range from $600 to $5,400. There were also two general violations with no fines. L&I opened the inspection on March 20, 2019, after receiving a complaint.

The college’s maintenance team had an employee enter a steam vault and remove damaged asbestos-containing pipe insulation without adequate protections. The college was cited for several serious violations for this and other asbestos-handling violations.

L&I also cited Evergreen for lockout/tagout violations and violations of confined space requirements. Lockout/tagout violations means the college required employees to work on electrical or powered equipment while the machinery could still operate. L&I also found violations for lack of eye protection, not meeting emergency eyewash requirements, and deficiencies in the college’s chemical hazard communication program.

Since the inspection, Evergreen has made a number of changes. The college hired a certified asbestos abatement contractor, and it sent two workers to a certified building inspector training course. The most important outcome for inspections is that an employer fixes existing hazards and prevents them from happening again.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation, including asbestos citations, is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

For a copy of the citations, contact L&I Public Affairs: 360-902-5413.

Fall Protection Lifelines Cut

Fall Protection Lifelines Cut by Exposed Edges – DOSH Hazard Alert

Fall protection lifelines cut by exposed edges have occurred in two separate accidents. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) recently issued an hazard alert directed to all employers and workers who rely on personal fall arrest systems. The following information was provided by DOSH.

DOSH Hazard Alert

This alert was developed by L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to alert employers, labor groups, and employees to potential hazards associated with work activities. This is not a rule and creates no new legal obligations. The information provided includes suggested guidance on how to avoid workplace hazards and describes relevant mandatory safety and health rules. DOSH recommends you also check the related rules for additional requirements.

Fall protection lifelines cut – a real and deadly risk

In Washington State, two workers fell to their deaths due to their self-retracting lifelines (SRLs) being severed in separate fall incidents. The lifelines had been anchored horizontally (i.e., at a level below the harness D-ring.

One incident involved a steel-cable lifeline that was severed when it contacted the edge of formwork made of steel plates.ƒ The other incident occurred when a nylon webbing lifeline was severed after contacting sharp, abrasive edges along a beveled wall.

Evidence from investigations of each incident indicated damage to lifelines occurred during the fall, not before. In both cases, manufacturers of the lifelines warned about using SRLs around edges that could damage the lifeline or prevent the SRL from effectively arresting the fall. Although the incidents described involved SLRs, non-SLRs (e.g., lanyard and rope, webbing, or cable) have similar risk.

Employers are required to address this risk per WAC 296-155-24613(1)(e), “You must protect all safety lines and lanyards against being cut or abraded”.

How to prevent this from happening at your jobsite

Any open side or edge of a floor, roof, deck, platform, or formwork creates a condition in which a lifeline could contact an edge and be severed in the event of a fall. To protect workers who use lifelines:

  • Identify and document all potentially hazardous edges during your walk-around safety inspections at the jobsite.
  • When possible, avoid working in areas where lifelines could contact potentially hazardous edges should a fall occur. ƒ
  • Anchor lifelines vertically overhead, whenever possible, to prevent the lifeline from contacting an edge and to minimize swing falls (or the pendulum effect) that can abrade and cut lifelines. In addition, make sure workers stay within a safe working distance from the overhead anchor point. ƒ

When a fall could occur over an edge:

  • Select and provide lifelines designed specifically for the
    application and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
  • Protect lifelines against being cut or abraded by covering the edge with a protective material.
  • Address potentially hazardous edges and protective measures for lifelines in your Fall Protection Work Plan.
  • Routinely inspect lifelines and other fall protection equipment before each use.

Instruct crews on:

  • The use and limitations of the fall protection equipment provided.
  • Where potentially hazardous edges are located.
  • Why they need to protect lifelines when working around exposed edges and how to do that.

Share this alert with crews to reinforce awareness of this safety issue.

Other resources you can access

View the full alert here.

Vocational Recovery Services – New Rules Proposed

New rules proposed by WA Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) would add vocational recovery services as the first services provided by vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) in most State Fund cases. This would replace the current early intervention services, with similar steps to be taken. The intent is to better align the rules with the state law that places a high priority on returning a worker to employment after an injury.

Vocational Recovery Services

In recent years, L&I has made significant changes intended to reduce process delays so that vocational providers can more effectively engage injured workers, employers, and medical providers before long-term disability sets in. Reported results include higher return-to-work rates and reduced costs for L&I.

For an injured worker, the effect of these changes is that a vocational counselor is assigned to their claim early in the process. VRC’s are tasked with a multi-step effort to try to return the injured worker to employment as soon as possible after an injury, either with the employer of injury, a past employer or a new one. The VRC may obtain work and education history from the worker as well as physical restrictions from the attending physician. Any proposed job offers are run by the physician for review and approval or modifications, if appropriate.

Often, once these initial steps are done, the VRC will remain assigned to the claim to monitor progress with treatment and continue with efforts towards returning the worker to some type of work, as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for us to see VRCs stay on a claim even when surgery is on the horizon.

Vocational Recovery Services – Review Proposed Changes

The proposed rules are available for review on L&I’s website for rule development.

The Proposed Rule Making notice, with explanations of the changes and the expected effect of those changes, can be found here. The full text of the existing rules along with proposed changes and additions can be found here.

Provide your input to L&I

Changes in vocational rules have the potential to impact the benefits received by an injured worker, both monetary and vocational. For this reason, I recommend that you review the proposed rule changes and provide your input to the Department of Labor and Industries during the public comment period, which closed on October 4th.

You may provide input in writing by email, mail, or fax through 6 p.m. on Oct. 4th. You may also participate in a public hearing at 10 a.m. on Oct. 2 at the Department of Labor and Industries in Tumwater. L&I will consider all input before preparing the final rules this fall.

Asbestos violations result in large fine

Asbestos safety violations were included in the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) citation against a Bellingham-based property management company. The citation included multiple serious safety and health violations, most of which involve improper handling of asbestos and lead. As a result of the violations, Daylight Properties is facing fines totaling $185,600.

The Violations

L&I has cited the company for 33 serious and six general violations. The highest single fine was $48,000 for failure to obtain a good faith inspection before beginning asbestos removal work. The amount was based on a $600 per day fine over an 80-day time period.

Other violations included not having asbestos removal certification, not having an asbestos “competent person” on site, workers not being certified for asbestos work, and not sufficiently wetting asbestos-containing materials during removal.

Asbestos Removal Requires Safety Measures

“Improper and unsafe lead and asbestos removal is a serious problem in Washington,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “This company renovates old buildings which often have asbestos and lead- containing materials. There are laws in place, and we expect them to be followed to prevent exposing workers, tenants and the general public to these hazardous materials.”

Asbestos is extremely hazardous and can cause potentially fatal diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Lead exposures have serious and permanent health effects on children and adults. Only a certified contractor who follows the specific related safety and health rules may remove and dispose of lead and asbestos-containing materials.

It’s all-too-common for contractors to conduct asbestos removal activities without the required certification, proper training, processes and equipment. It’s important for homeowners to know that if they plan to hire a contractor to remodel or renovate their home, they are required to get a good faith inspection before work begins. If asbestos is present, the contractor must be certified.

L&I Certifies Asbestos Removal Contractors

L&I has a list of certified contractors. It’s important to refer to that list because some unscrupulous contractors continue to advertise asbestos removal work even after they’ve been cited and decertified.

For some companies that do high-volume work, such as home or property flippers, even large fines are not a sufficient deterrent. Homeowners and property owners should be cautious when hiring contractors.

Daylight Properties has 15 business days to appeal the citations.

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

For a copy of the citations, please contact L&I Public Affairs at: 360-902-5413.

wage theft case results in big settlement

Causey Wright is pleased to share the news of a major victory in a wage theft case, achieved by Terrell Marshall Law Group with the assistance of the Fair Work Center of Seattle, WA.

Workers Settle Lawsuit

Current and former workers at Pyramid Alehouse in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle are celebrating long overdue paychecks thanks to a big win in court. On July 30th, a judge with King County Superior Court finalized the $450,000 settlement of a class action wage-and-hour lawsuit that workers filed against Pyramid’s ownership group, Independent Brewers United, LLC. The average award for each worker in the settlement will be about $1,000, while the highest award in the class totals more than $9,800.

Why Workers Filed Suit for Wage Theft

In the lawsuit, workers alleged several forms of wage theft and abuse during the years of 2014 to 2018. The allegations included:

  • Failure to provide meal and rest breaks
  • Failure to record and pay workers for all work hours
  • Manipulation of timesheets to delete hours worked (“time shaving”)
  • Failure to pay overtime for hours worked over 40 in a week
  • Failure to pay employees all service charges paid by customers
  • Failure to disclose to customers that not all banquet service charges collected went to the workers who provided services

In addition to paying their workers for the hours they worked, Pyramid will also be required to provide training to its workers so they know that whenever they are working, they must be on the clock.

Fair Work Center Played Role in Workers Obtaining Justice

“Class action employment cases like this help show that when workers stand together, they have the strength and the power to make serious changes in their work conditions,” said Rachel Lauter, Executive Director at Fair Work Center and Working Washington. “Fair Work Center is incredibly proud to play a role in bringing justice to workers at the Pyramid Alehouse in SoDo.”

In early 2018, workers from Pyramid Alehouse went to Fair Work Center seeking advice and support for discrepancies they were seeing in their paychecks. Fair Work Center partnered with the employment litigation firm of Terrell Marshal Law Group to bring the case on behalf of the workers, which was filed in April of 2018.

Food service workers are too often subjected to wage theft and other workplace abuses. With this settlement, we’re content the employer is being held accountable to the law and will have to change its practices. And we’re happy the workers will finally be getting paid the wages to which they’re entitled,” said Toby Marshall, a lawyer with Terrell Marshall Law Group.

Experiencing Wage Theft? Get Help!

Are you or someone you experiencing wage theft? Your time counts and you have the right to be paid for all of your work. Contact Fair Work Center if you rights are being violated at work.

The information above was provided in a press release issued by the Fair Work Center. For more information, contact the Fair Work Center at: (844) 485-1195.

McKesson Closing Everett Shop in June

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN)

Employment Security received a WARN for an organization in Everett.

Organization: McKesson

Expected beginning date of separations: June 7, 2019

Number of affected workers: 67

Layoff or closure: Closure

The Everett Herald reports that:

“Most of the affected workers are shipping-receiving clerks or warehouse workers. They belong to Teamsters Local No. 38, which negotiated a severance package. Some of the employees had worked there for decades.

“They were told that they could reapply, but they would have to re-apply as new employees,” said Michael Raughter, a union organizer who used to work for McKesson. “When they move down, they’re going to be non-union. Hopefully they’ll be able to re-organize.”

Read the full story…

Image credit: McKesson

Stand-Down for Safety, May 6 – 10, 2019


Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 366 of the 971 construction fatalities recorded in 2017 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.

Join the Washington State Stand Down

Falls cost. Safety pays. Choose to promote fall prevention on your job site during Safety Stand-Down weeks.

 

What is a Safety Stand-Down?

It’s when you take a break from normal work activities so your crew can focus on a particular jobsite safety topic, like training on safe use of ladders or inspection of full body harnesses.

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, as you can see from this Washington State infographic (753 KB PDF)

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Get Involved

Start now. Any construction business in Washington State can choose how to participate and what to address. You’ll find plenty of ideas and ready-to-go resources on various topics. See the Ladder Safety Resource Guide (177 KB PDF).

Ideas for Stand Down

Stand-Down activities can range from short toolbox talks to scheduled, full-day events. Pick what’s right for your company.  Find ideas here.

Share your success stories!

Share your story on social media with the hashtags #StandDown4Safety and #StopFalls.

Image credit: OSHA