Sierra Pacific Industries fined following death of worker

Sierra Pacific Industries has been fined $112,000 for safety violations following the death of 41 year old Andrew Ward of Elma at the facility in April.

Ward fell almost 20 feet from an elevated platform onto the concrete floor.

By the time deputies arrived, Ward had died from his injuries.

Following the death, Sierra Pacific Industries issued a statement through the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office, saying that they issue their “deepest condolences to the family”.

An investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has found and cited Sierra Pacific for seven safety violations at the lumber mill where the incident happened.

According to L&I, they say that they found that a section of permanent yellow guardrail was removed from the 17-and-a-half-foot-high platform and replaced with yellow caution tape so that a crane could move some equipment. When Ward went to the edge of the platform to communicate with the crane operator below, he leaned forward and fell.

According to their investigation, L&I reports that Sierra Pacific knew that caution tape could not be used in place of a guardrail, but still regularly allowed it to happen.

In addition, they say that there were requirements to provide workers with a fall protection system, such as a harness, while working on the elevated platform without adequate guardrails.

Sierra Pacific has been cited for a willful violation and with the maximum penalty of $70,000.

“A death like this is especially tragic because it was completely preventable by using proper fall protection and following safe work practices,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths and immediate hospitalizations. Employers need to be vigilant about preventing falls.”

Sierra Pacific was cited for an additional six violations, each with the maximum penalty of $7,000.

These violations include

  • ineffective safety and health training
  • a safety program that wasn’t tailored to company operations
  • inadequate personal protective equipment training
  • untrained crane personnel
  • and not following safety precautions required for open flame work.

L&I tells KXRO that Sierra Pacific Industries has now been placed on the “severe violator list” and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist in the future.

They say that the company has appealed the violations.

 

 

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