The death of a worker in Washington State has led to fines for three employers.
Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) cited the three companies for safety violations related to the death of a construction worker in downtown Seattle in January. The man died after falling 72 feet from a scaffold at a construction site on Taylor Avenue North.
North Coast Iron Corp, an Anacortes subcontractor, provided labor to install steel at the jobsite and was responsible for the safety of its workers at the site. North Coast Iron was cited for three willful and four serious violations, with proposed penalties of $85,200.
RDMDMDSRM, LLC, a Spokane general contractor, was a controlling employer at the jobsite and was also responsible for the safety of the North Coast ironworkers. The company was cited for three willful and two serious violations with proposed penalties of $85,800.
North Coast Iron had a verbal agreement with RDMDMDSRM to supply labor while installing steel at the jobsite. This constituted a “dual-employer” relationship where both employers failed to provide for the safety of the exposed employees.
The investigation also found that SRM Development, LLC, of Spokane, the parent company of RDMDMDSRM, was controlling the work at the jobsite and did not provide for the safety of the workers. SRM Development was cited for three willful and two serious violations, with proposed penalties of $85,800.
A serious violation exists in a workplace if there is a substantial probability that worker death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition. A willful violation can be issued when L&I has evidence of plain indifference, a substitution of judgment or an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule.
“This tragedy could have been prevented if any one of these companies had made certain that proper and safe scaffolding was installed to do the necessary work, and workers had appropriate fall-protection and training,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “Frequent hazard analysis on construction sites will save lives.”
Investigation Turns up Numerous Problems
The investigation found:
• The scaffold was not inspected by a competent person who could have identified the deficiencies that resulted in an accidental death, such as a lack of safe access, open planking and unsafe distance from the building.
• The edge of the platform was approximately five feet from the face of the building without a guardrail or other adequate fall protection.
• Workers lacked adequate personal fall protection equipment. For example, the ropes were not set up correctly and weren’t protected from abrasion or sharp edges when used over the edge of a concrete wall. Two of the three ropes on site were missing rope-grab mechanisms designed to lock onto the lifeline and arrest a fall.
• Workers were not given specific training in fall-protection hazard recognition and requirements to ensure they had the right equipment and used it correctly.
• Workers were not given specific training to recognize hazards and work safely from the type of scaffold at the jobsite.
The employers were given 15 business days to appeal the citations.
Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.
Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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