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Construction firm falls short on crane safety

Construction firm falls short on crane safety

A Washington construction company is facing $96,000 in fines from state regulators for workplace safety violations for operating a crane too close to high-voltage power lines without taking proper safety precautions.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has cited Kirkland, Washington-based Compass General Construction L.L.C. for two willful violations and one general violation, according to a statement released by the department on Monday. The violations were discovered last May, a few days after a department safety inspector visited the job site and went over the crane operation safety requirements with the site superintendent.

At that time, there was a crane on site but not near power lines. However, the department received a referral from Seattle City Light that the crane was operating near the power line without the required safety precautions a few days after the inspection, according to the statement. An agency inspector returned to the site and verified that the crane was operating near the power lines without a warning line such as highly visible flagging or caution tape to keep the crane a safe distance away or a dedicated spotter to alert the operator if he got too close. 

Compass was cited for one willful violation for not appointing a lift director to oversee the crane lifts and rigging crew and a second willful violation for not ensuring that power-line safety requirements were met, including having an elevated warning line a safe distance from the power lines, along with a dedicated spotter. Each violation carries a penalty of $48,000.

Both violations are considered willful because the department compliance officer went over the specific requirements with the site superintendent just three days earlier, according to the statement.

The company was also cited for one general violation for not documenting that the rigging supervisor had passed the required tests showing he was qualified.

As a result of the willful violations, Compass has been placed on the department’s severe violator list and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist, according to the statement.

The company has appealed the violations, according to the department. A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment. 

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