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April 2, 1999

Goldendale Aluminum fined $75,400 for worker-safety violations

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries has fined Goldendale Aluminum Co. a total of $75,400 for failing to protect workers from workplace safety hazards, including a willful violation of worker-protection rules.

The violations resulted from an inspection conducted last October after L&I received a complaint about unsafe conditions at the Goldendale smelter. The complaint alleged that workers were being exposed to potential explosions as a result of the improper grounding of electricity used in the aluminum production process. In one instance, an electrical charge exceeding 600 volts shorted out, causing an explosion that destroyed five electrical panel boxes. No one was injured.

Willful violation indicates that the employer knowingly or intentionally violated worker-protection rules, or exhibited plain indifference that a violation was occurring and failed to take corrective action.

The investigation resulted in three levels of violations - a willful, a serious and a general. Specifically, the employer was cited for:

  • Willfully failing to maintain the workplace and equipment in good repair in that employees were exposed to an explosion hazard when electricity used in the aluminum-production process became grounded. ($70,000 penalty)
  • Failing to develop and implement an accident prevention program that was tailored to protect workers from the specific safety hazards of the workplace. ($5,400)
  • Failing to ensure that a safety committee was comprised of employer-selected and employee-elected representatives. There was no penalty assessed for this general violation.

The employer has until April 7, 1999 to appeal the citation.

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