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September 24, 1999

BF Goodrich penalized in Everett worker's death
$2.5 million compliance agreement concludes investigation

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries has concluded its investigation into a fatal fall at an Everett aircraft maintenance plant last March with a $2.5 million compliance agreement.

L&I launched its investigation after Kenneth Stafford of Marysville suffered serious head injuries in a March 22 fall at BF Goodrich Aerospace MRO Group Inc. The 64-year-old worker fell from a portable stairway stand used to provide access to airliners at the Paine Field facility. He died five days later of head trauma.

L&I's agreement with the BF Goodrich Aerospace MRO Group Inc., calls for:

  • Payment of a $600,000 penalty.
  • An $800,000 investment to promote worker and community safety.
  • The company's acknowledgment that nine worker-safety rules were violated, one willfully.
  • The company to make $1.1 million worth of safety improvements beyond what is required for correcting the violations, including a third-party audit to verify compliance with the agreement.

The company operates the largest aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in the country.

L&I Director Gary Moore said the agreement was based on the agency's comprehensive six-month investigation and a desire to achieve the best resolution for the safety and health of the facility's workers.

"No agreement nor any amount of penalty money can ever replace the life of a lost worker," Moore said. "But we feel this agreement provides the best opportunities for ensuring the safety of workers at this plant. It also sends a strong message to all employers that worker safety is paramount. Anything less will not be accepted."

The settlement is only the second of its kind in the history of the agency. Earlier this year, L&I reached an agreement in connection with the deaths of six workers in an Anacortes oil refinery fire last November.

Moore said that while the cases are not similar and cannot be compared, the circumstances in each dictated that a settlement agreement was in the best interests of the workers at both plants as well as others across the state.

Moore also pointed out that the agreement provided immediate benefits by affirming the violations, providing for timely abatement of the hazards and eliminating the need for a protracted legal battle that would have held compliance and abatement in limbo pending outcome of the challenge.

According to the violation report, the company:

  • Willfully failed to ensure that all leadership personnel completed safety training relative to the company's operations of airframe maintenance and modification. In addition, the company failed to ensure that maintenance workers transferred or loaned to a new area received adequate safety orientation to the hazards and duties of the new assignment. (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.)
  • Failed to ensure that workers used appropriate fall-arrest equipment when working from the basket of an extended boom platform. In addition, the employer did not ensure that a trained operator was operating the aerial lift.
  • Failed to provide a safe workplace. Specifically, the employer failed to ensure the use of safety devices and safeguards, as well as the adoption of safe work practices, means, methods, operations and processes
  • Failed to establish, supervise and enforce a written accident prevention program as required. Violations included failure to investigate reported hazards, failure to conduct daily walk-around inspections, and failure to investigate serious injuries and illnesses in a timely manner.
  • Failed to ensure that a first-aid response plan was developed or maintained or first-aid-trained personnel were available on site as required.
  • Failed to provide and ensure that emergency eye-washing facilities were readily available in the immediate area where workers were exposed to harmful concentrations of contact chemicals.

There were three other violations related to first-aid supplies, first-aid stations and hazard assessment in the workplace. No penalties were assessed for these violations.

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