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Dec. 11, 2009

L&I and Lewis Equipment settle appeal over crane safety violations

TUMWATER – The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) and Lewis Equipment Company have settled an appeal of safety violations that were cited after L&I inspected three tower cranes at construction sites in King County last spring and summer.

As part of the settlement, L&I agreed to group all citations (for three worksites) into one and affirm. 

L&I cited Lewis Equipment Company for violations related to load-testing, electrical certification, control labeling, operator cab access, for assembling two of the three tower cranes using sections from two different crane manufacturers without obtaining both manufacturers’ approval, and a lockout/tagout violation on one site.

The single lockout/tagout violation was affirmed by agreement. L&I’s investigation ultimately determined that alleged electrical certification problems on the cranes had no relationship to the lockout/tagout violation.

In response to L&I concerns, Lewis Equipment Company corrected all of the alleged violations to the satisfaction of L&I before any formal citations were issued. L&I, as part of the compromise, reduced its citation relating to the so-called hybrid cranes from serious to general.

Given the unique factual and legal issues raised by the dispute over these citations, both L&I and Lewis Equipment Company were pleased to arrive at an agreed compromise.

“Our priority is always to ensure safety in the workplaces we inspect,” said Michael Silverstein, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.  “We’re pleased to have reached this settlement agreement with Lewis Equipment.”

According to Bob Reitz, Lewis Equipment Company Engineering Manager, “With the exception of a lockout/tagout incident, no industrial injuries were suffered by any Lewis Equipment employee or any other employee working with Lewis Equipment Company-leased tower cranes as a result of the instances which led to the citations. Prior to this incident, Lewis Equipment had used, and is still using the exact tower configuration in other states with the written approval of a licensed structural engineer. Lewis Equipment Company is pleased that the citation issues now have been resolved and continues to work with the Department of Labor & Industries in a positive and cooperative fashion to accommodate worker safety concerns.”

Lewis Equipment Company, located in Grand Prairie, Texas, leases, sells and services by contract construction tower cranes in most major markets in the United States.

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For media information: Elaine Fischer, L&I, 360-902-5413.

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