L & I fines Pacific Topsoils for safety violations after death of teenage employee

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has fined Pacific Topsoils, a landscaping and supply company based in Everett, Washington $199,000 for safety violations relating to the death of Bradley Hogue, 19.

Hogue was killed on his second day of work when he fell into a machine used in distributing “beauty” bark onto a property.

L&I cited Pacific Topsoils for “two willful and 14 serious violations” related to Hogue’s death. L&I Assistant Director Anne Soiza said:

¬†“The loss of this young man’s life is a tragedy that could have been prevented if the employer had followed basic safety and health rules that protect workers from moving machinery. We hope this citation and the penalties serve as a deterrent so that nothing like this ever happens again.”

In citing Pacific Topsoils, L&I found that the company had workers clear jams in the bark-blower truck hoppers when the hoppers were operating. This exposed workers to very hazardous conditions, all which were potentially life threatening.

L&I cited Pacific Topsoils for two willful violations:

  1. Not ensuring lockout/tagout procedures were regularly used.
  2. Not properly training employees in use of these procedures.

A willful violation is one in which an employer knowingly disregarded or was indifferent to employee safety.

seattle construction accident attorneyIn addition to the fines to Pacific Topsoils, L&I issued a bark and mulch-blower hazard alert to other companies about the dangers of working inside a hopper while it is under operation. L&I informed operators that two workers have been killed and another seriously injured in separate accidents

It is incumbent on employers to follow manufacturer’s safety instructions and to develop safety rules, procedures and training when operating dangerous equipment.

Work Related Accidents and Wrongful Death

The Farber Law Group is a Washington law firm dedicated to providing legal services for people who have suffered serious personal injuies related to work-related and construction accidents. We have worked with families with their wrongful death claims related to on-the-job accidents.

It is a tragedy when a worker is seriously injured in a job-related accident or a family member killed. In Washington state, when a construction worker is hurt on the job, worker’s compensation pays the cost of the injury if the employer is injured.

When a loved one is killed in a construction or in an on-the-job accident a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed claim against the employer claiming negligence by the spouse or children of the deceased. A wrongful death lawsuit is often the best way for a family to pursue financial compensation for the loss of their loved one. Damages can include earnings the deceased person would have provided, funeral expenses, lost benefits including insurance, loss of consortium and punitive damages designed to punish. Damages can be especially helpful to families in which there are minor children to raise.

If you have questions about a personal injury or wrongful death claim, please contact The Farber Law Group today. Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.

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