Multiple environmental, health and safety violations at a worksite in Fife have resulted in Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) citations and fines for two Western Washington businesses: Smarttalent of Kirkland and Innovative Repairs of Fife.
An investigation found that temporary workers were entering fuel tanks with no controls in place to ensure their health and safety. Entering confined spaces like fuel tanks without safety precautions in place can be deadly to workers and would-be rescuers. These type of incidents are fully preventable, L&I says.
Smarttalent was cited for 19 serious violations and fined $120,400. Innovative Repairs was also cited for 19 serious violations and fined $46,200. The difference in the penalty amounts reflects the size of the employers, the number of workers exposed and the employer’s good faith efforts to comply.
Smarttalent is a staffing agency that provides temporary workers to Innovative Repairs, which services fuel tanks and containers for mining operations in Alaska.
The inspections began in October last year after the state Department of Ecology notified L&I that workers were entering the fuel tanks to clean and service them and that no safety procedures were being used.
The fuel tanks were 20 feet long by 8 feet wide and 8 feet tall, with a 20-inch entry hatch on top. To clean inside the tanks, the workers climbed through the hatch and down a 6-foot stepladder.
The companies were also cited for violations related to hazardous chemical recognition and training.
Innovative Repairs has appealed the citation, and Smarttalent has 15 working days to appeal. 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.