Washington Co. Faces Fines After Mixing Cranes and Power Lines Without Proper Safety Precautions

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) cited a Kirkland area construction company after they placed workers at risk by allowing cranes to operate without the proper safety measures near high-voltage power lines.

Compass General Construction received a total of three violations, two willful and one general. They are facing fines of $96,000. In addition, the company will be on the department’s severe violator list and will undergo follow-up inspections.

An inspector visited a job site where cranes were working, and discussed crane operation safety requirements with the site superintendent. Just a few days after that visit, the department received a referral that a crane was operating near power lines without the necessary safety precautions of a warning line (caution tape or visible flagging), or a dedicated spotter who would let the crane operator know if they were getting too close.

The company received a willful violation for failing to appoint a lift director who would oversee the crane and crew. They also received a willful violation for failing to ensure that proper power-line safety rules were met. They received a general violation for failing to document that the rigging supervisor had passed tests to qualify him for the job.

Between 1999 and 2012 there were nine deaths as a result of cranes touching power lines in Washington. These kinds of deaths or injuries are preventable and companies should be aware of the safety hazards associated with this kind of work.

The company has appealed the violations.

Read the press release from L&I. While you’re there, check out their handout on power lines and crane safety.

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