Young Corporation faces $2M fine from WA Department of Labor

Jun 1, 2023, 4:26 PM

department labor violations young...

Excavators working on strengthening a riverbank after a flood. (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

(Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

After 175 safety and health violations were discovered by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) from three confidential complaints, a $2 million fine has been issued against the Seattle-based company Young Corporation.

Across the three locations, L&I found 31 willful (when a business intentionally ignores a hazard or rule) serious violations, seven willful general violations, 94 serious, and more than 40 general violations. The total fine, $2,013,120, is among the largest in L&I history. The money collected from the fines is lined up for workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job, according to the department.

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“The number and gravity of the hazards is staggering, one of the worst cases I’ve ever seen,” said Craig Blackwood, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, in a prepared statement. “They had safety meetings where they talked about and documented the hazards, but they never took any action.”

The Young Corporation produces and develops excavator equipment, with other locations including the Meltec Foundry division and the Nordick Manufacturing machine shop division in Woodinville. Violations included cranes that had not been inspected for years, damaged wire ropes and rigging, unqualified crane operators and riggers, machinery with no protective guards, crumbling and falling ceiling tiles that contained asbestos, roof leaks on or near electrical wiring, and workers eating, drinking, and smoking in the presence of toxic chemicals.

“We’re imposing significant penalties so workers’ lives are not put at risk again,” Blackwood continued.

Employees were reportedly working amid noise levels so extreme that at some points, the levels couldn’t be registered on L&I’s noise meters, according to the Department of Labor. Workers were also exposed to dangerous chemicals at levels well beyond state or federal legal limits, including hexavalent chromium and crystalline silica. Hexavalent chromium exposure increases the risk of lung, nasal, and sinus cancer among other serious health effects. Crystalline silica exposure can lead to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and death.

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Young Corporation is the leading manufacturer of orange peel scrap grapples, clamshell buckets, and material handlers among other products often seen at scrap yards, recycling facilities, logging yards, and barges. The company was founded in 1902 when C.J. Young established a blacksmith shop in Seattle’s SODO district amid a booming logging industry.

Young Corporation has already filed an appeal.

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Young Corporation faces $2M fine from WA Department of Labor