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Jan. 8, 1997

Bellevue contractor cited/fined for failing to protect subcontractor's workers

TUMWATER - A Bellevue general contractor has been cited and fined $30,000 by the state Department of Labor & Industries for failing to ensure that the employees of subcontractors were protected while excavating foundations and footings at a Redmond-area residential development last fall.

Burnstead Construction Co., 1215 120th Ave. N.E., Suite 201, Bellevue, was cited under authority of the "Stute Decision," a 1990 state Supreme Court ruling that established general contractors are liable for ensuring that the employees of subcontractors are protected from workplace safety hazards and occupational disease. Stute established that general contractors are responsible for the safety and health of every worker on the job site.

The violation's willful designation means that the employer either intentionally violated worker safety and health rules or knew that a rule was being violated and made no reasonable effort to correct it.

Burnstead was cited two years ago at the same development in connection with a fatal cave-in involving a worker employed by a subcontractor on the site.

The willful violation stemmed from a jobsite where workers were exposed to cave-in hazards in excess of four feet while building and laying out footing and foundation forms adjacent to an embankment that ranged up to 16 feet above the workers. The exposed workers were likely to suffer death or permanent disabling injures in the event of a cave-in, according to the citation.

Burnstead also was cited for other various violations involving subcontractors at the worksite including failing to ensure that:

  • Fall protection regulations were followed.
  • Stairs and stair landings to second floors had appropriate rails.
  • A subcontractor's written accident prevention plan was tailored to the hazards of the worksite.
  • Weekly crew leader/crew safety meetings were held at the jobsite.
  • Subcontractors had someone present at all times who held a first-aid certificate.
  • First-aid kits were available at the jobsite.

Burnstead also was cited for weekly crew leader/crew safety meetings in connection with the company's own employees. The general contractor also failed to ensure that weekly walk-around safety inspections were conducted by employee and management representatives as required.

Burnstead has 15 working days from the date of receipt to appeal the citation and penalties.

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