Spanaway cabinet manufacturer fined more than $100,000 for worker health violations

 

March 14, 2016

 

Tumwater – Viking Cabinets Inc., of Spanaway, has been fined $107,000 for exposing workers to fire hazards from flammable liquids, chemical exposure and other workplace health risks at its cabinet manufacturing shop.

 

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) cited the company for 29 serious health violations, with penalties ranging from $4,200 to $1,600 each.

Eight of the serious violations were related to unsafe use and storage of flammable liquids, vapors and spray. The inspection found that large quantities of flammable liquids were kept in the work area where they could contribute to a fire, instead of being safely stored away. Ventilation wasn't adequate for removing flammable vapors and mists from the air to prevent fire. Combustible fine wood dust had accumulated on the electrical system and other surfaces in the shop, creating an additional fire hazard.

Other violations cited were related to exposure to corrosive or toxic chemicals, such as not ensuring that all emergency eye-washing stations were functional and accessible in the event of a chemical splash to the eyes and failure to address chemical hazards and train employees who work with toxic or corrosive chemicals.

The inspection also found workers were required to enter a large dust-collection silo referred to a as a "bag house," to perform routine maintenance without the required confined space safety precautions being in place. Thirteen of the serious violations were for confined space hazards.

Working inside a confined space without the proper safety precautions can be deadly to workers and would-be rescuers. Confined space hazards can include suffocation, toxic atmospheres, engulfment, entrapments, moving parts and other dangerous conditions.

Employers must control access to the space and use a permit system to prevent unauthorized entry. Anyone working in or around a confined space must be trained and there must be safety measure and rescue procedures in place.

In addition to the serious violations, the company was also cited for five general violations that did not carry a fine. Since the inspection, Viking has taken steps to remedy many of the workplace health violations that were cited.

The company has 15 days to appeal the citation. 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.