- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - State safety regulators on Monday fined Seattle Tunnel Partners $2,050 for violations relating to a February accident that left four iron workers injured when a wall in the tunnel’s north portal collapsed and for failing to properly report missed days due to injuries for 17 workers over three years.

The Department of Labor & Industries fined the subcontractor, Central Steel, that was overseeing the north portal work in April, but said Seattle Tunnel Partners is also responsible because it is the controlling contractor of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project, which aims to move State Route 99 underneath downtown Seattle.

Regulators said it cited and fined the contractor $1,750 for not ensuring that protruding pieces of rebar were protected should a worker fall.

“The injuries that occur when a worker is impaled on rebar are serious and would require hospitalization and possibly result in serious permanent disability,” according to the citation, acquired by The Associated Press through a Public Records Act request.

Washington State Department of Transportation tunnel project spokeswoman Laura Newborn said safety is the agency’s top priority.

“We require all of our contractors to have stringent safety protocols in place, regularly report on safety incidents, and take proactive steps to prevent accidents,” she said in an email. “WSDOT will continue to work with Seattle Tunnel Partners and all our contractors to ensure safety remains the highest priority.”

Safety regulators also issued three citations and three $300 fines against the tunnel partners for failing to properly report the numbers of missed days for 17 workers who were injured in the past three years.

According to the citation, contractors must record all injuries on an Occupation Safety and Health Administration 300 log within seven days of the accident. But Seattle Tunnel Partners failed to report the number of days off an injured worker took in 2012. The contractor did not report the days-off in nine separate injures in 2013 and seven separate injures in 2014, the citation said.

Seattle Tunnel Partners responded late Monday by saying the rebar violation has been corrected and the three reporting violations will be fixed by June 15.

“STP does not agree with the citations and is determining if it will appeal the citations,” it said in an email. “STP is very proud of its safety program and safety record on the SR 99 Tunnel Project and continues to work to prevent all safety incidents and injuries.”

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Follow Martha Bellisle at https://twitter.com/marthabellisle

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