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Contractors at two Washington construction sites fined more than $780K for safety violations

Photo credit: iStock.com/zhaojiankang

The two costliest safety violations in the construction industry over the past three months happened at jobs sites in Washington state, totaling more than $780,000, according to industry news site Construction Dive.

In September, the Washington department of Labor & Industries (L&I) fined Everett-based Chilos Builders more than $230,000 for safety lapses including exposing workers to fall hazards while they worked about 30 to 45 feet above ground at two Seattle job sites.

L&I designated Chilos as a “severe violator,” placing the contractor under heightened scrutiny from safety inspectors until dangerous working conditions are addressed. Previously, L&I had inspected and cited Chilos (which formerly operated under a different name) on five occasions since 2016.

Regarding the latest violations, which were part of eight citations issued against the company in recent months, Chilos has appealed proposed fines of $108,360 for one project, while $126,000 in fines for the other project seem are uncontested.

In July, L&I fined affiliates of energy company Renewable Energy Systems more than $545,000 for safety lapses at a wind farm construction site in Rainier, Washington, where one worker died and another was seriously injured in a trench collapse in January.

L&I issued 15 citations to RES America and RES System 3 for violations including failure to provide sufficient trench protection, failure to provide appropriate written safety programs, failure to take adequate precautions for site hazards and “promoting a work policy designed to circumvent” safety regulations.

Both RES America and RES System 3 are contesting the violations and fines at the Skookumchuck Wind Farm construction site.

A safety and health manager who was injured in a subsequent incident at the same site described it “as probably the most dangerous wind farm I’ve ever been on.” He said several warnings to site leaders about the dangerous working environment went unheeded before the trench collapse.

 


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