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Safety Violations Lead to $2.5M Upgrade for Spokane

The city of Spokane, Washington, will spend more than $2.5 million on safety upgrades at its waste-to-energy plant; the upgrades were approved by the City Council this week, following the Department of Labor and Industries’ ruling that the city must pay a fine of $59,400 for safety violations. The Department of Labor and Industries cited the city for 10 violations that led to two workers being seriously injured when cleaning out a boiler.

The city says the upgrades are not directly related to the accident, which occurred last October, but are rather proactive safety measures to make the waste-to-energy plant safer as a whole, according to Spokane’s KREM.com.

New safety measures include changes in how the boilers are cleaned: small, controlled detonation blasts within the boiler will be used to clear the boiler of debris before workers are allowed to clean the device. The city will also replace several pieces of heavy machinery and upgrade the facility’s turbines.

Additionally, the city has hired a safety firm to investigate the rest of the plant for any other safety threats.

“Lack of safety precautions and inadequate training continue to be the two major root causes of such incidents. Cities and companies can proactively reduce such penalties, related insurance claims and premiums by making it easier to train and to enable workers to follow safety procedures,” Kevin Finlay, Vice President of Rivo Software, a Sphera Company, told Environmental Leader.

The $2.5 million in upgrades at Spokane’s waste-to-energy facility will begin later this year.

In related news, a man employed by Fraser Shipyards who was injured in February died over the weekend; Fraser was issued a citation from OSHA for the use of “defective or damaged personal protective equipment,” according to WDIO-TV (via the Duluth News Tribune).

OSHA also said Fraser did not ensure that employees used appropriate hand protection or clothing: jackets and coveralls were not fire-retardant, and the protective clothing had holes and frayed fabric.

Seventy percent of hand and arm injuries could have been prevented by proper use of gloves, OSHA says (via EHS Today).

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