SPANAWAY, Wash. – Viking Cabinets Inc. was fined $107,000 for exposing workers to fire hazards from flammable liquids, chemical exposure and other workplace health risks at its cabinet manufacturing shop in Spanaway, Washington, says the Washington State Department of Labor. Since the inspection, Viking has taken steps to remedy many of the workplace health violations that were cited.
Viking Cabinets was cited for 29 serious health violations, with penalties ranging from $4,200 to $1,600 each. Eight of the serious violations were related to unsafe use and storage of flammable liquids, vapors and spray, following an inspection by the state labor department, which found combustible fine wood dust had accumulated on the electrical system and other surfaces in the shop, creating an additional fire hazard.
The inspection also found workers were required to enter a large dust-collection silo referred to a as a "bag house," to perform routine maintenance without the required confined space safety precautions being in place. Thirteen of the serious violations were for confined space hazards. The citations for combustible dust as contributing to unsafe conditions adds to its growing resume as a bad actor in wood manufacturing settings.
The inspection found that large quantities of flammable liquids were kept in the work area where they could contribute to a fire, instead of being safely stored away. Ventilation wasn't adequate for removing flammable vapors and mists from the air to prevent fire.
Other violations cited were related to exposure to corrosive or toxic chemicals, such as not ensuring that all emergency eye-washing stations were functional and accessible in the event of a chemical splash to the eyes and failure to address chemical hazards and train employees who work with toxic or corrosive chemicals.
The Washington State agency reminded employers that working inside a confined space without the proper safety precautions can be deadly to workers and would-be rescuers. Confined space hazards can include suffocation, toxic atmospheres, engulfment, entrapments, moving parts and other dangerous conditions. Employers there are required to control access to the space and use a permit system to prevent unauthorized entry. Anyone working in or around a confined space must be trained and there must be safety measure and rescue procedures in place.
The company has 15 days to appeal the citation. Penalty money paid in connection with a citation is placed in the workers' compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.
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