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June 29, 1999

Two Eastern Washington employers fined for worker-safety violations

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries has fined two Central Washington employers more than $125,000 for willfully violating worker-safety regulations in two unrelated incidents.

In the first inspection, Roy Farms, Inc., of Moxee City, was cited for seven violations of worker-safety rules that protect workers from the hazard of a cave-in in a 12-foot-deep excavation at Postma Road in Yakima in February. The investigation resulted in penalties of $54,720 for three levels of violation - two willful, four serious and one general. A 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.

Specifically, the Roy Farms was cited for:

  • Willfully failing to slope, shore or otherwise protect three workers who were in a 12-foot-deep excavation. Additionally, the employer willfully failed to provide a safe means to access or leave the excavation. ($36,000 penalty)
  • Willfully failing to protect the workers after being told that the sides of the excavation posed a cave-in hazard to the workers. Also, the employer willfully failed to have a competent person conduct a daily inspection of the excavation as required. ($13,600)
  • Failing to ensure that workers in the excavation wore hard hats to protect them from overhead hazards falling or rolling into the excavation and causing head injuries. ($1,200)
  • Failing to ensure that surface encumbrances were not removed to prevent them from creating pressure that could increase the probability of a cave-in. ($1,200)
  • Failing to ensure that excavated materials were not kept at least two feet away from the edge of the excavation to reduce the probability of a cave-in and prevent the materials from rolling back into the excavation. ($1,360)
  • Failing to have an accident prevention program tailored to the operations and hazards involved in the excavation. ($1,360)

The employer also failed to provide toilet facilities at the site of the excavation. No penalty was assessed for this violation.

The employer has appealed and the case has been referred to the state Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.

Wilson Construction Co. of Canby, OR, was fined $70,700 for one willful and one serious violation in connection with a December 1998 incident in which a journeyman lineman received an electrical shock at a Moses Lake job site.

Specifically, the employer was cited for:

  • Willfully failing to ensure that the foreman enforced the safety procedures and policies in the written accident prevention program. Specifically, the foreman did not ensure that workers used safety equipment and devices as required. ($63,000 penalty)
  • Failing to ensure that workers and other objects did not come closer to exposed energized parts than permitted. ($7,700 penalty)

The employer has appealed and the case has been referred to the state Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.

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