Contractors fined $229K for safety violations in Seattle crane accident

Dive Brief:

  • Three contractors on a Seattle construction project have been fined a total of $229,200 and were issued safety violations for their roles in a September crane accident that left two workers severely injured, according to The Seattle Times.
  • Officials from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) said the two workers were severely burned after a crane touched an overhead wire. L&I investigators alleged that the companies chose to work under the power lines rather than wait for them to be moved underground.
  • L&I fined Marpac Construction $133,500 and cited it with six safety violations, while officials fined Spartan Construction $90,000 and issued five safety violations to the company. Shaffer Crane & Equipment was fined $5,700 and issued four violations. Marpac and Spartan have filed appeals to the citations.

Dive Insight:

Because of this and previous incidents, L&I officials have categorized Marpac and Spartan as severe violators, which makes them subject to follow-up inspections. OSHA reported last year that approximately 520 companies had been added to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program from 2010 to mid-April 2016, of which 60% are in the construction industry.

Cranes are a common source of serious job site accidents, a fact that has led to a greater emphasis on proper operator training. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is implementing new operator crane certification rules later this year.

New York has seen high-profile crane accidents in the last several years, with the most recent being a February 2016 accident that killed one pedestrian and launched an overhaul of the city's crane regulations.

OSHA has also issued hefty fines ifor crane incidents, such as in August of last year when it fined New Jersey contractor RCS Construction $71,400 for 29 safety violations related to crane use, as well as for chemical use, storage, electrical hazards and other violations.

Some crane accidents have even led to criminal charges. In January, a California crane operator was charged  with involuntary manslaughter in the death of his son and another worker. Cal-OSHA said that Mark Powell used an older crane in a state of disrepair to lift his son and a co-worker 80 feet in the air in order to repair another crane when the bucket the two were standing in broke loose from the crane and fell to the ground, killing both of them.

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Filed Under: Legal/Regulation
Top image credit: Pixabay