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Oct. 30, 2000

Seattle contractor fined for Harbor Island worker safety violations

TUMWATER - The state Department of Labor & Industries has cited a Boise, ID, contractor for 14 worker safety and health violations relating to the removal of contaminated soil at Terminal 18 on Harbor Island in Seattle. Penalties totaling $48,500 were assessed.

Washington Group International, formerly Morrison-Knudsen, was cited for violations identified during L&I's six-month investigation at the site which is owned by the Port of Seattle. Listed as a federal Superfund cleanup site, portions of the site are being "remediated" for a new railway yard.

L&I launched the investigation in April after receiving complaints that workers were being exposed to hazardous chemicals and metals left on the site from previous use. The toxic hazards included arsenic, cadmium and chromium, all carcinogens, as well as lead, a hazardous metal.

Investigators said the workers potentially were exposed to these toxic substances through inhalation and ingestion. Any dust raised from the exposed earth represented the potential for workers to inhale the hazardous substances.

Workers who ate food or smoked with unwashed hands also represented potential exposures. In addition, workers who wore contaminated clothing home also represented potential exposure for family members and others.

There were 11 serious violations cited primarily from the employers failure to comply with rules and requirements that regulate hazardous waste operations, including:

  • Failure to have procedures for site control.
  • An incomplete personal protective equipment plan.
  • No emergency response procedures for chemical release.
  • Management was not trained in hazardous waste operations as required.
  • Failure to notify workers and contractors of the hazards posed by the site.
  • Failure to conduct air monitoring and sampling as required.
  • Failing to provide decontamination facilities, including showers and change rooms.
  • Failure to provide workers with 40 hours of training and three days of supervised field work in hazardous waste operations.

The employer also was cited for three general violations related to:

  • Site monitoring.
  • Failure to develop and implement an emergency response plan to handle anticipated emergencies.
  • Failure to provide medical exams and consultations to workers who developed signs or symptoms of overexposure to hazardous substances or health hazards.

The employer has 15 business days to appeal the violations.

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