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March 31, 1998

Spokane electrical contractor cited, fined for fatal accident

TUMWATER - The state Department of Labor & Industries has cited and fined a Spokane electrical contractor $128,500 for willfully violating worker safety rules in connection with the fatal fall of a lineman last September on a power line right-of-way near Darrington in Snohomish County.

Jerry Cade, 52, of Enumclaw, fell to his death Sept. 16, 1997, after the top of the utility pole that he was cutting fell the wrong way, shearing off the boom of the aerial lift he was working from.

The employer, Aztech Electric Inc., of Spokane, was subcontracting with the Snohomish County Public Utility District at the time of the accident. Under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA), L&I is required to investigate all occupational fatalities.

L&I's investigation resulted in two willful violations, one repeat-serious violation and one serious violation, with total penalties of $128,500. The willful violations indicate the employer intentionally violated worker safety rules or knew that violations were occurring and failed to take steps to protect workers.

The first willful violation cited eight infractions related to the electrical clearance and exposure of workers to energized transmission lines.($70,000 penalty)

The second willful violation cited the emplyer's failure to ensure that workers used appropriate fall protection equipment while working in the aerial lift. ($45,000)

The repeat-serious violation cited the employer's failure to develop a formal accident prevention program that was tailored to the specific hazards of the worksite, including the safe removal of pole tops, fall protection in aerial lifts, personal protective gear for chainsaws and other power tools, traffic management and safe practices and procedures associated with electrical hazards. ($9,000)

The serious violation included a series of infractions related to supervision and enforcement an accident prevention program, certification of employee compliance with safe work practices, and employee training. ($4,500)

The employer has 15 working days from receipt of the violation report to appeal.

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