Category Archives: Worker Safety

Agriculture Safety Event in Eastern Washington

Agriculture is one of Washington’s largest industries. Unfortunately, it continues to have one of the highest injury rates. The state is working to change that with upcoming workplace safety events geared specifically toward agricultural workers and management.

To meet the growing safety and health training needs, Washington’s 2019 Agriculture Safety Day events will be held in two locations.

This year, for the first time, the Kennewick conference was held at the Three Rivers Convention Center on Feb. 5. It returns to the Wenatchee Convention Center Feb. 27. Registration is now open online for the Wenatchee event.

Reducing hazards is good for workers, and it makes good business sense. The one-day meetings promote workplace safety and health.

The topics covered during the safety day events are specifically geared to hazards that employers and workers say are the most important. The training is cosponsored by the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

This year’s agenda features sessions on tractor and ATV safety, confined spaces, machine guarding, hazard awareness, sexual harassment prevention, distracted driving and more. Many workshops will be in both English and Spanish.

Some classes qualify for pesticide recertification credits. Check the registration web page for details. Several health and safety exhibitors will also be there with educational booths, product displays and demonstrations.

Online pre-registration is $75 per person or $65 for groups of five or more. Students and apprentices get a discounted rate of only $35. Admission at the door is $85. The registration fee includes the conference and lunch.

Register now for Wenatchee 2/27/2019: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/376831

For more information, contact Conference Manager Rebecca Llewellyn at 1-888-451-2004.

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WA Farm Worker was Severely Burned When a Drum Exploded

The Washington Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program* has published a new Injury Narrative. The new narrative describes an incident where a farm worker was severely burned when a drum exploded. 

For your convenience, this narrative is also available as a Slideshow intended to be used as a group discussion and training tool.

These are one-page reports that summarize work-related injury incidents and list some requirements and recommendations that might have prevented the incident from occurring. We are focusing on theagriculture industry. These narratives provide preliminary information about the incident to the interested community, similar to OSHA’s Fatal Facts and MSHA’s Fatalgrams. We hope that they are used for formal or informal educational opportunities to help prevent similar incidents.

*The FACE Program is partially funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH grant# 5 U60 OH008487-11) and the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. The contents of the Fatality Narratives are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIOSH.

 

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Multiple Asbestos Violations Result in Nearly $800,000 in Fines

Improper and unsafe handling of asbestos at a Seattle area home-flipping site put workers and neighbors at risk, and has left two business owners and their companies facing numerous citations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

James Thorpe, Northlake Capital & Development, 3917 Densmore LLC, and Chris Walters have each been cited for 11 willful and serious violations. In total, the fines for the four separate investigations add up to $789,200.

“These two men endangered their workers and people who live nearby this project, including children,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “On top of that, they tried to avoid responsibility by creating a legal web of confusion over who was responsible. I hope this sends a strong message that we take worker safety and public health very seriously.”

L&I opened the inspection following a complaint from an alert neighbor living near the residential renovation project on Densmore Road in Lynnwood. Several workers were improperly removing exterior asbestos tiles from the home over a weekend. When a neighbor confronted Chris Walters, the man who said he was the homeowner, Walters promised to remove the asbestos correctly. However, two neighbors took videos that showed the workers committing several violations.

An extensive investigation by L&I revealed that Walters was actually part of a complex corporate partnership created to renovate and flip the residence.

The home was initially purchased by Seattle company Northlake Capital & Development, owned by James Thorpe. Northlake is a real property company that primarily focuses on house flipping. After the purchase, Thorpe created 3917 Densmore LLC and established Walters, a Northlake employee, as the sole member of the new corporation, claiming that Walters was the homeowner, and that he intended to live in the home.

During parts of the investigation Walters and Thorpe shifted responsibility from LLC to LLC and from person to person. Eventually, L&I cited both men and the companies they oversee for the same violations. The fines vary, primarily due to the number of workers each entity was responsible for. Thorpe and Northlake each received $214,100 in fines and Walters and 3917 Densmore each receive $180,500.

The violations included using uncertified workers to remove asbestos; not using a certified asbestos supervisor; and not obtaining an asbestos good faith survey prior to beginning work. They were also cited for not using water and not keeping the shingles intact during removal (the workers were breaking the tiles with hammers); for the lack of proper personal protective equipment for workers; not monitoring the air during removal; and for not having a written accident prevention program.

Asbestos is extremely hazardous and can cause potentially fatal diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Only a certified abatement contractor that follows the specific asbestos related safety and health rules may remove and dispose of asbestos-containing building materials.

An employer has 15 business days from the time a citation is received to appeal, and each of these citations is currently under appeal.

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 Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.

Washington One of the Top States for Workplace Safety

Washington remains one of the best states for workplace safety and health according to a report from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. For 2017 our state had the ninth lowest fatal occupational injury rate in the nation.

According to the report, there were 84 workplace deaths in Washington in 2017, which comes out to 2.5 deaths per every 100,000 fulltime workers. That’s a slight increase from 2016 when Washington’s rate was 2.4 per 100,000.

“Every workplace death is tragic. Employers, workers and the state must continue to work together and learn from each serious injury and death, so we can continue to improve Washington’s workplace safety culture,” said Anne Soiza, L&I Assistant Director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “This report shows we’re on the right track, but there’s always more to do to keep workers safe and healthy. We all need to continue our focus on preventing falls and the disturbing rise of workplace violence.”

As part of the state’s focus on prevention L&I partners with industry and labor on campaigns, provides free onsite consultations to public and private employers to help them find and fix workplace safety and health hazards. The agency also works closely with high-risk industries to alert them to dangerous work situations and activities so they can prevent them.

Washington’s workplace fatality rate is 30 percent below the national average. The numbers vary from year to year, but Washington consistently demonstrates one of the lowest fatal occupational injury rates in the country.

Construction is always one of the most dangerous occupations here and nationally. Washington had 15 construction fatalities in 2017, one more than in 2016. That’s a rate of 6.2 per 100,000 full-time workers; six other states had a lower rate.

Other industrial sectors that rank high on the national list for dangerous workplaces include the category of farming, fishing and forestry with a rate of 20.9 fatal injuries per 100,000, and transportation with a rate of 15.9. Each of these rates is meaningfully higher than the respective rates in Washington of 11.7 and 5.8 per 100,000 full time workers.

The bureau’s report contains several charts and graphs that break down the data by type of incident, occupation, industry, state, etc. For a more detailed look follow the links on the bureau’s news release.

 

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Vancouver, WA Firm Handed Large Fine forTrenching, Excavation Violations

Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries has fined a Vancouver, WA  construction company that specializes in excavation and trenching $126,400 for multiple safety violations.

Colf Construction was a subcontractor on the 10th Street Bridge project in Ridgefield, WA when the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) opened the inspection March 20, 2018. DOSH conducted eight site visits during the inspection, which closed Aug. 30, and found trenching violations during five of those visits. DOSH cited the company for six willful and serious violations.

The violations included not ensuring workers were protected from cave-ins, not performing daily excavation inspections, not removing workers from hazardous areas, employees working under suspended load, no safe access or exit available from excavations, and lack of fall protection.

“Trenching and excavation incidents can happen suddenly, and cave-ins are often deadly,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “This employer knew the dangers and had been warned before. Every employer that does trenching and excavation needs to know there are many complex deadly hazards that must be taken seriously and controlled.  These hazards are a focus for the department and nationwide due to their high rate of worker fatalities.”

Cave-ins pose the greatest risk to workers performing excavation and trenching work, and even a four-foot deep trench can present life-threatening hazards. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car, and cave-ins can happen much too fast for a worker to respond. In this case not only were the workers not protected from this hazard, there were also no easy entry and exit paths from the trenches.

The employer had 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, contact Frank Ameduri of Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

OSHA Warns Hurricane Florence Clean Up Workers to Practice Caution

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

As Hurricane Florence damage is assessed and affected areas began to clean up, workers and residents are being faced with numerous hazards caused by the storm.

OSHA is warming emergency crews to take precautions and to address hazards from flooding, power loss, structural damage, fallen trees and storm debris.

“Workers involved in storm recovery can face a range of safety and health hazards,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in a statement. “Risks can be minimized with knowledge, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment.”

Only individuals with proper training, equipment, and experience should conduct recovery and cleanup activities. The agency recommends measures after a weather disaster should include the following:

  • Evaluating the work area for hazards;
  • Assessing the stability of structures and walking surfaces;
  • Fall protection for elevated surfaces;
  • Assuming all power lines are live;
  • Using chainsaws, portable generators, ladders, and other equipment properly; and,
  • Using personal protective equipment, such as gloves, hard hats, hearing and foot protection, and eye protectors.

OSHA maintains a comprehensive website with safety tips to help employers and workers. Individuals involved in response and recovery efforts may call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

[Click here to see the original post]

 

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WA State Safety and Health Standards for Beryllium Updated

Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD), sometimes called berylliosis, is an immunological lung disease caused by exposure to beryllium via inhalation of airborne beryllium or skin contact with beryllium-containing dust, fume, mist, or solutions. CBD can progress to a serious and life-threatening disease if left undiagnosed and beryllium exposure continues.

Washington State has completed rulemaking to to add Chapter 296-850 WAC Beryllium as a new chapter to Title 296 WAC of the Department of Labor and Industries. This action was taken in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) final rule on Beryllium in the General Labor, Construction and Maritime areas if industry.

The Department of Labor and Industries will have one Beryllium rule to include all industries listed, instead of separate rules for each industry as OSHA has done. This rule will limit worker exposure (Personal Exposure Limits, or PELs) to beryllium and beryllium compounds, which can cause the debilitating lung disease known as chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and lung cancer. This rule mirrors OSHAs final rule, with minor differences in the Definitions, Medical Removal, and Medical Surveillance sections that allow for implementation of the rule to be consistent with existing requirements in Title 51 RCW. The PEL tables in WAC 296-307-62625 and WAC 296-841-20025 were updated to reflect OSHAs reduced Beryllium PELs.

All obligations of this standard commence and become enforceable on December 12, 2018, except for the following compliance dates: Change rooms and showers required by WAC 296-850-145 must be provided by March 11, 2019; and Engineering controls required by WAC 296-850-130 Methods of Compliance must be implemented by March 10, 2020. The changes were adopted 8/21/2018 and will be effective on 12/12/2018.

Find more information about these rule changes on the Department of Labor and Industries website.

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Taco Bell Franchise Fined by WA State for Violating Teen Worker Laws

A Taco Bell franchise owner has been fined nearly $120,000 by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for repeated violations of teen worker laws over several years at a half-dozen Western Washington restaurants.

This week, L&I sent a letter to the California-based Taco Bell of America LLC requesting representatives meet with the agency to discuss required changes in the company’s youth employment practices. The company owns some 60 restaurants in the state. 

It’s important to note these violations are connected specifically to Taco Bell of America LLC. There are other Taco Bell restaurants in Washington not connected to this company, or to the violations found.

“Teens are an important part of the workforce. We enforce these laws to prevent injuries and keep them safe on the job,” said David Johnson, L&I Employment Standards Program manager.

In all, six investigations over three years – based on complaints from employees and parents – have resulted in fines totaling $119,450.

Numerous violations found at Marysville, Auburn and other stores

L&I issued one citation in June of this year against a company restaurant at 17105 27th Ave. N.E. in Marysville, and one in March involving the Taco Bell at 710 Auburn Way S., in Auburn. Fines in these cases total $70,000. The company is appealing the Marysville citation.

At the Marysville location, L&I’s investigation covering January and February found 11 youth worked more than three hours without taking a rest break 59 times; nine minors worked more than four hours without a rest break on 20 occasions, and the restaurant failed to produce parent school authorization forms or proof of age of the workers. L&I found similar violations at the Auburn restaurant.

During the summer, many youth are working real jobs for the first time. “Teens often don’t know their workplace rights, so it’s up to managers to follow the laws and emphasize safety on the job,” Johnson said.

In 2017, 680 youth, age 17 and under, reported injuries on the job in Washington.

In 2015 and 2016, L&I conducted other investigations of Taco Bell of America LLC locations. Those investigations resulted in the company paying $49,450 in fines. Violations were found at stores located at 501 15th St. N.E., Auburn; 182 Trosper Road S.W., Tumwater; 1478 Dike Access Road, Woodland; and 21131 State Route 410 E., Bonney Lake.

L&I provided training for more than two dozen Taco Bell of America LLC restaurant managers and human resources staff members during those investigations.

It’s important to note these violations are connected specifically to Taco Bell of America LLC. There are other Taco Bell restaurants in Washington not connected to this company, or to the violations found.

Washington State’s Move Over Law Changes, Makes Work Zones Safer

On June 7, Washington State traffic laws changed to improve roadway work zone safety. The new law requires drivers to proceed with due caution, slow down, and, if safe, move over or change lanes when approaching any authorized construction or maintenance vehicle or worker in a designated roadway work zone. 

The new rules describe work zones to include adjacent road lanes 200 feet before and after stationary or slow-moving construction, maintenance, solid waste, or utility service vehicles that display flashing or rotating lights that meet state requirements for vehicle warning light systems. 

Fines range from $136 for failing to move over to $1,000 for reckless endangerment offenses. Penalties can also include jail sentences and driver’s license suspensions. The changes follow House Bill 2087, which passed with full legislative support to expand the previous “move over law” for first responders and emergency vehicles. 

Read more on the Keep Trucking Safe Blog

 

 

Serious Injuries at Two Worksites Lead to Fines and Citations for National Products, Inc.

A Seattle, WA company that manufactures electronics mounting systems and other products is facing more than $250,000 in fines for multiple serious and willful worker safety and health violations.

The state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) recently cited National Products, Inc. after finding numerous violations during three separate inspections this year.

L&I opened one of the inspections after a worker was burned by molten aluminum, and another inspection followed amputation injuries at another National Products worksite. The inspections identified 26 total violations including multiple serious and willful violations collectively resulting in fines totaling $253,320.

“We’ve cited this employer before for several of these very serious hazards, but the company continues to put its workers at risk,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

The amputations, which involved several fingers of one worker, occurred in a facility where there were five trimming presses, each of which was in some sort of disrepair. Among other problems each machine had an emergency stop button that was either blocked, missing or in disrepair. Worn out and unaligned springs that made the operator visually line up levers were a contributing factor in the injury.

The burn injury happened at another National Products facility where workers were carrying molten aluminum from one machine to another in ladles slung over their backs, and they were not wearing proper personal protection equipment.

“Workplace injuries and illnesses are preventable, and many of these hazards are easy to control,” Soiza said. “L&I offers free tools and expertise to help Washington employers create safer workplaces so they can save lives and money. There’s just no excuse for continually putting workers at risk.”

Since National Products, Inc. has been cited in the past for similar situations, the company is now considered a severe violator — a designation that carries consequences, such as follow-up inspections at any of their facilities or sites that could have similar hazards.

The employer 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 Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.

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