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June 19, 1998

Liberty School District cited, fined for safety violations

TUMWATER -- The state Department of Labor & Industries has fined a Spokane-area school district for willfull and serious violations of worker safety rules, including machine guarding and electrical code requirements in the shop and kitchen areas of a school.

Liberty School District No. 362 in Spangle, was fined $80,120 for multiple violations of worker protection rules at the high school.

Under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA), employers are required to train, equip and protect their workers from the safety and health hazards of the worksite. The citation included two willful, 13 serious and two general violations.

The citation resulted from a complaint alleging worker exposure that was filed with the department after a high school student suffered a severe hand injury while using a table saw in the shop-area of the school in December. Although L&I's authority is limited to workers and does not extend to students, the agency determined that workers were exposed to the same hazards. The Spokane Regional Health District has responsibility for public and student safety.

The willful violations indicate that the employer intentionally violated worker protection rules, or exhibited plain indifference that a violation was occurring and failed to take corrective action. Specifically, The school district was cited for two willful violations, including:

  • Failure to guard the blade of a 10-inch table saw in the shop area. ($27,000 penalty)
  • Failure to ensure that a 12-inch radial arm saw in the wood shop would return to its starting position of its own accord. ($27,000)

In addition, the district was cited for 13 serious violations, including multiple infractions that were grouped together when they related to similar hazards. Specifically, the district was cited for:

  • Failing to properly equip the table saw to protect the operator from kickback and other malfunction hazards. In addition, the flooring in the vicinity of dangerous machinery was not treated to protect operators from slipping hazards. ($2,700)
  • Failing to ensure that the radial arm saw blade was completely guarded. ($2,700)
  • Failing to ensure that the escape handle on a walk-in freezer functioned properly. ($1,120)
  • Failing to equip a belt sander with a side guard. ($1,260)
  • Storing oxygen cylinders with acetylene cylinders. ($1,190)
  • Electrical wiring and connection violations on a welder. ($2,100)
  • Various electrical hazards on welders, related equipment and facilities. ($1,190)
  • Missing electrical grounding prongs on various power tools. ($1,400)

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