ABERDEEN, Wash. - Sierra Pacific, one of the largest lumber producers in the United States, has been fined $112,000 for safety violations following the death of a worker. Last April, employee Andrew Ward, 41, fell to his death from an elevated platform onto the concrete below.
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigated the death, fining and citing Sierra Pacific Industries for seven safety violations at its lumber mill in Aberdeen, Washington.
L&I found that a section of permanent yellow guardrail was removed from the 17-and-a-half-foot-high platform and replaced with yellow caution tape - allowing a crane to move around equipment. As Ward approached the edge of the platform to communicate with the crane operator, he fell.
L&I said the employer at Sierra Pacific was accountable - knowing that caution tape cannot be used in place of guardrails at high elevation. Sierra Pacific should have also provided employees with a protection system against falls, such as a harness, lanyard, and tie-off point.
"A death like this is especially tragic because it was completely preventable by using proper fall protection and following safe work practices," said Anne Soiza, L&I's assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. "Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths and immediate hospitalizations. Employers need to be vigilant about preventing falls."
Sierra Pacific was hit with the most serious citation: a maximum penalty of $70,000 for not ensuring that an open-sided work platform was adequately guarded and for not ensuring employees wore fall protection equipment. It also received six additional citations of $7,000 each for a range of serious hazards: ineffective safety and health training, an ineffective safety program, inadequate personal protective equipment training, untrained crane personnel, and for not following safety precautions required for open flame work.
Sierra Pacific has appealed the citations.
Sierra Pacific Industries is based in Anderson, California. The company owns and manages nearly 1.9 million acres of timberland in California and Washington, and is among the largest lumber producers in the United States.
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