Tag Archives: employer citation

Tower Crane Erection and Dismantling Violations

Tower Crane Erection and Dismantling Hazard Alert

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) issued a Hazard Alert in June 2019 discussing roles, responsibilities, and procedures during tower crane erection and dismantling. Read the full DOSH Hazard Alert: Roles, responsibilities, and procedures during the erection and dismantling of tower cranes.

The hazard alert was issued in response to an April 27, 2019 incident where a construction tower crane collapsed in Seattle, Washington while being dismantled, fatally injuring two workers and two members of the public.

Violations Result in Fines

The Department of Labor and Industries completed it’s investigation in October 2019. During the investigation, it was found that the conditions leading up to the collapse may not have been an isolated event, but was due to procedures that have been practiced throughout the industry.

The state issued citations to: GLY Construction, Northwest Tower Crane Service, and Morrow Equipment, totaling over $107,000.00. The state did not cite two other companies involved, Omega Morgan and Seaburg Construction.

New Safety Regulations – DOSH Directive 8.55

On November 4, 2019, DOSH issued Directive, 8.55 – Tower Crane Erection and Dismantling Violations which clarified the rules for the erection and dismantling of tower cranes, and established a willful penalty classification for specific tower crane erection/dismantling safety violations.

The April 2019 accident, which was found to have been “totally avoidable,” prompted the state to craft and implement the new regulations outlined in Directive 8.55.

This directive includes enforcement instructions for Compliance Officers who inspect tower cranes worksites to ensure employers provide an assembly/disassembly director and follow the manufacturer’s written procedures when erecting and dismantling tower cranes. Directive 8.55 also creates a willful violation classification, allowing for increased penalties in cases where safety is compromised.

WAC 296-155-53402 sets out the rules for safety practices when assembling and disassembling a crane/derrick.

Tower crane erection and dismantling presents safety hazards.

When the DOSH Compliance Crane Unit documents violations of either WAC 296-155-53402 (1) or WAC 296-155-53402 (17)(a) through (d) on a tower crane erection or dismantling site, the violation will be classified as willful and the penalty will be multiplied by 10.

More Information

For more information about the April 2019 accident, the Department of Labor and Industries investigation, and the citations issued, look to The Seattle Times coverage, including:

WA L&I Cites Company for Shorting Workers Over $155,000

Six construction workers were shorted more than $155,000 in wages for work on a Belfair senior center, according to a Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation.

The workers are owed about $25,000 each for wood framing at the Belfair HUB Senior Center. Their employer, Integrity Construction LLC, was on the project from May to August 2015. L&I notified the company of the violation in August, 2017.

L&I’s investigation found the Tacoma company owes $156,692.48 in wages and more than $30,000 in fines and penalties. Integrity did not appeal the violation and is barred from bidding on future public works projects until the money is paid.

“Integrity vastly underpaid its employees for the work they did,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director for L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. “By making sure contractors pay their workers fairly, we are creating a level playing field for firms in the construction industry.”

The Belfair project received $1.86 million from the state’s capital budget. That meant Integrity was required to follow the state’s prevailing wage law. L&I enforces the law, which protects workers by setting the wages for specific work.

Because the project owner was a non-profit and not a public agency, the organization was not required to post a performance bond or hold money aside until the project was completed, called retainage, for situations like this.

“It’s important that agencies and non-profits understand that using public money on a project means it’s covered under prevailing wage,” Smith said. “The law’s safeguards would have assured protection for the workers’ wages.”

Belfair’s Hospitality, Unity, and Belonging (HUB) Senior Center, valued at a reported $3.5 million, opened in May 2016. At 15,000 square feet, the structure houses a thrift store, meeting space, and kitchen. PHC Construction of Bainbridge Island was the prime contractor.

Photo credit: Faith in Action

Fatal Fall Investigation Results in Citation and Fine for Aberdeen, WA Lumber Mill

An Aberdeen lumber mill has been fined $112,000 for safety violations following the death of a worker last April. Andrew Ward, 41, died when he fell from an elevated platform where he was working to the concrete surface below.

An investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has found and cited Sierra Pacific Industries for seven safety violations at the lumber mill where the incident happened.

L&I’s investigation found that a section of permanent yellow guardrail was removed from the 17-and-a-half-foot-high platform and replaced with yellow caution tape so that a crane could move some equipment. When Ward went to the edge of the platform to communicate with the crane operator below, he leaned forward and fell.

The investigation found that the employer knew that caution tape cannot be used in place of guardrails at a high elevation, but still regularly allowed it to happen. Additionally, the employer was required to provide workers with a fall protection system, such as a harness, lanyard and tie-off point, while working on the elevated platform without adequate guardrails, and when removing them.

As a result, Sierra Pacific has been cited for a willful violation, the most serious, with the maximum penalty of $70,000 for not ensuring that an open-sided work platform was adequately guarded and for not ensuring employees wore fall protection equipment.

“A death like this is especially tragic because it was completely preventable by using proper fall protection and following safe work practices,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths and immediate hospitalizations. Employers need to be vigilant about preventing falls.”

The employer was cited for an additional six serious violations, each with the maximum penalty of $7,000. Those violations covered a range of serious hazards that exposed workers to harm, including ineffective safety and health training; a safety program that wasn’t tailored to company operations; inadequate personal protective equipment training; untrained crane personnel; and not following safety precautions required for open flame work.

Because of the willful violation that led to the death of a worker, Sierra Pacific Industries has been placed on the severe violator list and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist in the future.

The company has appealed the violations.

Photo credit: Safety poster by Gravitec Systems, providers of training, equipment and testing.