News | Communication Services, 360-902-5400 - PublicAffairs@Lni.wa.gov

Three companies cited for safety violations after fatal fall at Seattle construction site

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July 9, 2014

Tumwater – The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited 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."

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 have 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.

For a copy of the citation, please contact Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.

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For media information: Elaine Fischer, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-5413 or Elaine.Fischer@Lni.wa.gov.

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Broadcast version:
The Department of Labor and Industries has cited three companies for safety violations following the death of a worker in downtown Seattle last January. The man died after falling 72 feet from a scaffold at a construction site at Taylor Avenue. North Coast Iron Corp., of Anacortes was fined $85,200. Two Spokane companies, RDMDMDSRM LLC, and SRM Development LLC, were fined $85,800 each. All three companies were cited for multiple willful and serious safety violations related to scaffold safety and fall protection. The employers have 15 business days to appeal the citations.

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