Two Washington Companies Fined for Multiple Safety Violations

January 30, 2015

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited and fined Waste Connections Inc., of Washington-Clark County, and Leadpoint Business Services for multiple safety violations at the West Vancouver Material Recovery Center.

Leadpoint is a staffing agency that provides contracted workers to Waste Connections Inc. Waste Connections has its own workers onsite as well, and is also responsible for informing contractors and contracted workers of hazards at the facility.

Leadpoint was cited for 22 serious safety violations and fined $77,600. Waste Connections was cited for 23 serious violations and fined $100,000. Many of the violations centered around unsafe entry and work in confined spaces.

The investigation began in July 2014 after a Leadpoint worker was hospitalized from injuries received while performing maintenance on a “screen sorter,” a conveyor system used to sort and separate recyclable materials like paper, plastic, glass and aluminum.

The investigation found that workers regularly worked in and around moving machinery and equipment, such as moving discs, shafts, motors and hydraulics. Working in and around energized or hydraulic equipment requires “lock-out/tag-out,” a safety procedure to ensure employees aren’t hurt by the unexpected startup of machinery during service and maintenance. Both employers were cited for seven lock-out/tag-out violations.

Additionally, the investigation found that workers were entering various “permit-required confined spaces” daily with no controls in place for ensuring their safety. Permit-required confined space hazards exist in the facility’s sort screens, conveyors, manholes, tanks, vaults and garbage trucks. Both employers were cited for more than a dozen serious violations related to failure to implement safe work practices for entering a permit-required confined space.

Both employers were cited for an additional violation for not protecting workers from exposure to falls while working on unguarded, open-sided work surfaces up to 9 feet high.

The employers have 15 working days to appeal the citation. 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.

Source: Washington Department of Labor & Industries

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