Tag Archives: Safety Violations

Asbestos Removal Company Fined $229,700 for Exposing Workers and Public to Unsafe Conditions

An Edmonds, Washington based asbestos removal contractor has been cited by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for multiple willful safety violations for improper handling of asbestos. Along with the citations, the company faces fines totaling $229,700.

L&I has cited Above & Beyond Asbestos Removal in connection with two separate inspections. Along with citing and fining a company, L&I may also decertify an asbestos contractor for multiple willful violations. This company is under review. 

“This company has demonstrated a continuous indifference to Washington’s asbestos handling rules which protect workers and the public from harm,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “This fine delivers a clear message that asbestos is a deadly hazard and we won’t tolerate any company that doesn’t follow the rules to keep the public and workers safe.”

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. 

The two recent inspections of Above & Beyond each uncovered several similar violations. One worksite involved the emergency removal of boiler insulation in a Seattle apartment complex, and the other concerned the removal of asbestos popcorn ceiling material in a single-family residence.

In both cases, the workers did not use proper safety equipment, required air sampling was not performed, and asbestos-containing material was left exposed to the public and was improperly taken through public areas. Asbestos-containing dust can harm both workers and the public until it is eliminated.

The two inspections resulted in multiple willful and serious violations. A willful violation is one where L&I finds evidence of plain indifference or an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule. 

Above & Beyond has been cited in the past for similar violations and has been identified by L&I as 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.

Photo by bullittbourbon on Foter.com / CC BY

Company Fined Over $1 Million After Explosion at Newport, WA, Plant

Zodiac Cabin & Structures Support LLC has been fined $1,316,000 for workplace safety and health violations following an explosion at its carbon fiber production plant north of Spokane. Seventeen workers were injured in the oven explosion at the Newport, Wash., facility last July.

 

A nearly six-month investigation by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) concluded that the explosion could have been prevented if Zodiac had used required safety interlocks and safeguards to ensure that the curing oven was used safely and as advised in a consulting engineer’s report.

 

L&I cited the employer for 17 willful violations for knowingly and willfully exposing workers to the risk of serious injuries. The investigation found the company used defective equipment and didn’t ensure safe procedures were used when processing flammable materials in its industrial curing oven. Each violation carries the maximum penalty of $70,000.

 

“Had this explosion occurred during the day when many more workers were present, there could have been many more injuries and possibly even deaths,” said Anne Soiza, L&I assistant director of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “As it is, 17 people were injured and their lives put at risk from an incident that was highly predictable given the operating conditions.” 

 

Along with the willful violations, L&I cited the company for 18 serious violations, all with the maximum penalty of $7,000 because of the high potential for death or permanent serious harm.

 

Due to the danger of an explosion, specific safety interlock controls and other safety procedures were supposed to be in place before the highly flammable resins were used in the 90-foot drying oven. Those controls were not in place, despite the fact that Zodiac had advice from its contracted consulting engineer detailing the steps needed to ensure safe operation prior to using the flammable uncured resins.

 

The investigation found that flammable resins had been run through the oven a number of times prior to the explosion. L&I also discovered that 11 days before the incident, the plant was evacuated due to flammable vapors that created a risk of explosion in the same operation.

 

Four of the serious violations cited were for not ensuring effective energy control procedures were in place to protect workers when they had to reach inside the curing oven for cleaning, service or maintenance.

 

The company was also cited for eight “confined space” serious violations related to employees entering the 90-foot oven to perform cleaning, service or maintenance. Working inside a confined space area, such as the oven, without safety precautions can be deadly to both workers and would-be rescuers. Confined space hazards can include suffocation, toxic atmospheres, entrapment and other dangerous conditions that are fully preventable.

 

An additional six violations were related to failing to prevent ignition of flammable vapors and protect workers from inhaling harmful vapors and chemicals, such as from solvent and formaldehyde.

 

As a result of the willful violations, Zodiac Cabin & Structures Support LLC has been identified as a severe violator and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist in the future.

 

The employer has 15 days to appeal the citation. Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

 

For a copy of the citation or photo, please contact public affairs at 360-902-5413.

Window Washer Killed From Fall in Tacoma, WA

KING-TV reports that a window washer was killed after falling from a building in downtown Tacoma Thursday, September 16, 2015. It happened at the Davita Building at 1423 Pacific Avenue, near the Tacoma Children’s Museum.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner identified the man killed as 30-year-old Timothy Thomas Sargent.

He worked for United Building Services out of Seattle. There was initially no word of how he fell. Tacoma Police and L&I are investigating.

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries said this employer has been cited four of the past six inspections for serious violations related to fall prevention.