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Seattle business fined by state after worker's death

{ 10:52, 18/5/2011 } { 0 comments } { Link }

The Sodo business where a worker was killed in an industrial accident earlier this year was fined $5,400 by the State Department of Labor and Industries for what officials described as three serious violations.

Trinidad Ruiz, 63, was killed Jan. 4 after a bale of clothing weighing between 500 to 780 pounds fell on her.

The company where she worked for years, Buffalo Export at 99 South Spokane Street, has made corrective changes as a result of the incident, an L&I spokesman said. The company's operations manager said it's doing all it can to be safety-oriented and has worked with state agencies.

"Our accident prevention program has been updated and been made more in depth," Operations Manager Anthony Benezra said Friday.

Workers at the company did not previously ensure that the bales of used clothes stacked six high were secured, according to a state assessment notice. The height of the six bales was about 24 feet, with each bale of clothing weighing between 500 and 780 pounds, the documents state.

An inspector reported that employees were exposed to potentially crushing injuries resulting in major broken bones, internal injuries or death, as in Ruiz's case.

Buffalo Export also didn't prohibit employees from entering or being in any workplace that was unsafe, and employees were allowed to access the warehouse where the stacked bales of clothes were six high, the state inspector noted.

Ruiz was struck by a collapsing bale while she was returning to her work area.

Those two violation items led to $3,600 in penalties, and the violations were corrected during a state inspection.

The state said Buffalo Export needed to provide forklift drivers training on safe stacking practices, methods to identify unsafe bundles and safe methods to unload bales from trailers.



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