WA manufacturer fined nearly $500,000 for exposing worker to dangerous chemicals
Sep 1, 2023, 8:06 AM | Updated: 8:22 am
A chemical manufacturing company in Moses Lake is facing a nearly $500,000 fine for exposing a worker to dangerous chemicals.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is fining Two Rivers Terminal, a fertilizer and chemical formulator, $479,700. L&I said that Two Rivers did seven ‘wilful serious violations, seven serious violations, and four general violations’ of Washinton labor laws.
During an investigation at the beginning of the year, inspectors with L&I found an employee who was working on top of a railcar and passed out, falling to the ground after being exposed to the toxic gas hydrogen sulfide.
The worker was seriously injured and was not wearing a legally mandated hydrogen sulfide gas monitor, respiratory protection, or fall protection.
The company said that their procedure for unloading the molten sulfur used in production changed from unloading tank trucks to unloading railcars a few months prior to the accident, and they hadn’t done any assessment of how dangerous the new method would be.
“It’s hard to overstate how serious a risk they were taking with their workers’ lives,” Craig Blackwood, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said in a statement. “We’re focusing our enforcement efforts on making sure Two Rivers is doing everything it must to ensure its workers return home safely at the end of the day.”
Later, L&I issued an immediate work stoppage Jan. 26 at the molten sulfur unload area in order to implement safety procedures, and the order was lifted Feb. 6.
Two Rivers was previously cited for more than 60 safety violations following an Oct. 2022 inspection. Six of the recent willful violations are for hazards that were not fixed from the 2022 citations.
The company is working to appeal all of their citations.