Sumas roofing product manufacturer fined nearly $100,000 following worker death

February 16, 2022

TUMWATER – The failure to follow basic lockout/tagout procedures was directly connected to the death of a worker in Sumas when an agitator arm inside a tank he was cleaning turned on. After an inspection by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), the company responsible is being fined $98,000.

IKO Pacific failed to control the power supply to dangerous equipment and failed to properly supervise work in confined spaces. The company has been cited for 17 serious violations and one general violation following the investigation into the July 17, 2021 fatality.

“It was clear this company knew what needed to be done since they had plans in place that, if properly implemented, could have prevented this tragedy,” said Craig Blackwood, L&I assistant director. “Lockout/tagout and energy control are fundamental safety measures that have long been commonplace on worksites. Tragic accidents like this one show exactly why they continue to be important.”

Energy Control
Energy control incidents happen when machinery unexpectedly or accidentally gets power and starts up because the power source isn’t shut off or “locked out.” Seven of the violations stem from not following their own energy control and lockout procedures. The company failed to have an authorized employee specifically responsible for checking to ensure the safety of the tank.

The investigation revealed IKO Pacific had a written energy control plan that, if followed, would have prevented the equipment from operating while the worker was inside the tank.

Confined Space Procedures
Because of the dangers of working in enclosed spaces, businesses are also required to take specific steps to keep workers safe in these confined areas. A confined space is one that is large enough and arranged so that a worker can fully enter it and work, has limited or restricted entry or exit, and is not designed for continuous human occupancy. Examples include tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins hoppers, vaults, excavations and pits.

IKO Pacific was cited for the remaining 10 serious violations because they did not ensure those steps were followed. Specifically, L&I cited the company for failure to supervise and coordinate entry into the confined space, failure to prevent unauthorized entry, and failure to provide adequate rescue.

IKO had a written confined space entry program but did not implement many of these procedures.

Training and Consultation
L&I provides training on lockout/tagout procedures and how to work safely in confined spaces. Businesses may also take advantage of Consultation Services, provided free of charge, to assist with safety plans and procedures.

A view of the tank from the outside showing the small entry and exit opening. The power source of this tank was not properly locked out and a worker was killed while inside this confined space when it suddenly turned on.

For media information:

Dina Lorraine, L&I Public Affairs, 360-972-4868.

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