Washington landscaping company facing $200K in fines after worker’s death

Photo: Q13 Fox NewsPhoto: Q13 Fox News

One Washington landscaping company is facing serious fines after a 19-year-old worker died on the job back in July.

The Department of Labor and Industries fined the company $199,000 for 16 safety violations related to the accident, according to the HeraldNet.

The worker died his second day on the job after falling into a rotating auger, which was being used to distribute bark to a client. The victim was inside the hopper of the blower when he fell.

The company was fined $108,000 for two willful violations: failing to ensure that proper safety procedures were used and failure to train employees on those procedures. The Department of Labor and Industries also fined the company an additional $78,000 for 12 violations related to lack of safe practices.

Additionally, the company was fined $13,000 for failing to document proper equipment lockout practices and not having an accident preventative program.

“We hope that we can prevent another family from going through what we’re experiencing right now,” the victim’s mother told the HeraldNet. “It’s not just a work-related accident. We lost our son.”

Landscapers should always be working to create and implement a safety program within the company.

Three ways to do that are as follows:

If you have the budget, you can have a safety consulting firm build a custom program for you. They’ll take input from all levels of your firm, develop simple-to-follow work procedures and conduct periodic evaluations. You can also work with your insurance carrier and with local associations to develop a semi-custom program for your firm.

If you’ve inherited or purchased your company, there was probably already a program in place. Perform an objective assessment of the program, determining what areas are workable for your firm today, and what areas need to be updated. If you need help, consider OSHA’s free onsite consultation program. The services are separate from the enforcement division and will not result in penalties or citations. As part of the consultation, OSHA will identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.

If you decide to start from scratch and create a program on your own, your safety program will need to include the following five components – management commitment and planning; employee involvement; worksite analysis; hazard prevention and control; and safety and health training. In addition to general information, which can be found here, you’ll need to include job-specific training such as confined spaces or trenching that applies to the scope of work you perform. You can find customized programs to use as a guideline here.


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