L&I adds child labor violations to safety citations against Vancouver construction company where teen worker lost his legs

March 19, 2024

TUMWATER – Rotschy LLC, of Vancouver, Wash., is facing additional fines for child labor law violations after an investigation stemming from the catastrophic injury of a 16-year old worker on a construction site last summer.

The teenage boy was using a walk-behind trencher when he was dragged underneath the blade, causing injuries so severe he lost both his legs. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) safety and health inspection resulted in a $156,259 fine for letting workers operate equipment without training or experience.

Now, L&I has issued $51,800 in fines for violations of laws designed to protect minor workers.

“There are some jobs that state law says minor workers just can’t do, for their own safety” said Bryan Templeton, manager of L&I’s Employment Standards Program. “But the law can only prevent tragic injuries like this when they’re followed. Rotschy knew the rules, but still put seven different teenage workers in harm’s way nearly three dozen times.”

Minors using prohibited equipment on the job
L&I investigators found that Rotschy allowed seven different minors to operate earth-moving machines or heavy equipment or work so close to the machines that they could be injured by them on 35 different occasions.

They also denied 11 minor workers meal breaks they are due under law 45 times, and worked eight young workers for more hours than state law allows during a school day more than 150 times. On one occasion, Rotschy started a teen’s work day before 5 a.m.

These new citations are on top of L&I citing the company for a “willful serious” workplace safety and health violation in December for the same incident. L&I also issued an order of immediate restraint suspending Rotschy’s student learner exemption. 

L&I issued the latest citation on Feb. 22, and the company paid it on March 12. They have already appealed the safety and health citation.

See L&I’s teen workers website for work requirements involving teens on a job site.

For media information:

Matthew Erlich, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6508.

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