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Companies fined for fatal trench collapse at wind farm


Three companies have been fined more than a half-million dollars in connection with a January trench collapse at a wind farm site near Rainier, Washington, that killed one worker and seriously injured another, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries announced Thursday.

And investigation into the incident found numerous safety violations at the Skookumchuck Wind Farm site, resulting in $360,874 in fines for RES System 3 LLC for eight violations and $184,800 for RES America Construction Inc. for six violations. A third company, GEMS, a medical service contractor, has been cited for one serious violation and fined $4,200, according to a statement.

At the time of the incident, a RES System 3 employee was in a 15-foot-deep trench to position a bore pipe so it could be placed underneath a culvert by an excavator. Moments after the employee entered the trench, part of it collapsed, pinning the man. After another worker and the excavator operator jumped in to rescue him, a second, larger collapse trapped the rescuers as well. The excavator operator was buried up to his knees, but was able to free himself and call for help, according to the statement.

Managers and employees from RES America and RES System 3, as well as GEMS medics arrived to assist in the rescue effort. At one point, nine or more people took turns entering the still unprotected trench to dig out the buried workers, according to the statement.






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