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March 23, 2005

Skagit County company cited for safety violations in death of worker

TUMWATER — The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has fined NW Forest Fibre Products of Concrete $76,960 for workplace safety violations that contributed to the death last September of one of its employees.

Keith Cain, 28, of Sedro Woolley died Sept. 15 when the rag he was using to wipe water off a debarker drum got caught between two spinning tires and dragged him into the machine, which strips bark from tree limbs. An L&I investigation concluded that Cain’s employer had failed to have proper lock out, tag out protections in place, and that it had failed to protect its workers from a variety of hazardous machinery and equipment. Lock out, tag out protections ensure that a piece of machinery cannot be operated while it is being cleaned or repaired.

On March 15, L&I cited NW Forest Fibre for several workplace safety violations, some of which were deemed willful or repeat violations. In addition to paying the fine, the company must correct all of the safety violations L&I investigators found. The company has 15 days from the date it received the citation to appeal the findings.

The L&I investigation found that a storm had blown off the roof that covered the debarker, allowing it to get wet and not operate efficiently. Rather than turn the equipment off and dry it, Cain attempted to clean the drum while it was operating.

L&I determined that the company had not provided proper safety training and did not have adequate procedures in place to protect workers.

L&I's WISHA (Washington State Industrial Safety and Health Act) program investigates workplace injuries that are serious or result in death. It conducts about 7,000 workplace inspections each year. In addition, WISHA offers free consultations, workshops, videos and training resources (www.LNI.wa.gov/Safety/) to help employers meet safety and health requirements and promote safety in their workplaces.

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For media information: Robert T. Nelson, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6043 or nelq235@LNI.wa.gov or visit the L&I News and Media Center at www.LNI.wa.gov/News.

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