workplace safety

Officer Jayme Biendl was murdered by an inmate in the chapel at the Monroe Correctional Complex in 2011. Her death spawned a major prison safety initiative in Washington.

A state performance audit released Tuesday concluded that Washington prisons are safer five years after Biendl's murder, but safety gaps still persist that put staff at risk.

Several former Hanford construction workers testified in a U.S. Department of Labor hearing in Kennewick Tuesday, saying managers at the nuclear site played dangerous pranks that ended in workers with bloodied fingers, an injured knee, a hurt arm and glue smeared across the face. 

At the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant, the Columbia Generating Station, a recent anonymous letter has spurred a $150,000 investigation so far into the plant’s performance. The letter was penned by an apparent insider.

Workers injured on the job are supposed to get guaranteed medical care and money to live on. Employers and their insurance companies pay for that.

And in return, employers don't get sued for workplace accidents. But this "grand bargain," as it's called, in workers' compensation, seems to be unraveling.

An NPR investigative report reveals that those who are entrusted with treating injuries actually suffer from them the most.

Nurses in the U.S. experience more debilitating back and body injuries than almost any other occupation.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

Sixty-four people died on the job in Washington state in 2014, more than in any of the past three years, according to preliminary figures from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. The fatal incidents varied widely, from an ironworker falling off a roof on Jan. 6 to a logging truck driver being run over by his own truck on Dec. 30.

The company building pontoons for the new Highway 520 Floating Bridge in Seattle has been slapped with a six-digit fine.

The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries says Kiewit General willfully disregarded safety concerns.

KUOW's Lisa Brooks reports, it's because of a crane failure at the company's Aberdeen construction site last June.

TRANSCRIPT

Video was rolling that day, when the lug for a concrete counterweight for a tower crane broke loose, causing the 13,000-pound weight to plunge to the ground.

"Product of Mexico" — it's a label you see on fruit and vegetable stickers in supermarkets across the U.S.

It's also the name of an investigative series appearing this week in the Los Angeles Times.

Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington have been complaining of vapors from radioactive sludge for decades.

Courtesy of Gordon Janz

The U.S. Department of Justice has closed its four-year criminal investigation into whether environmental and worker safety laws were broken leading up to the fatal Tesoro refinery blast.

Can A 'Bigger Hammer' Stop Oil Refinery Accidents?

Jul 8, 2014

Ross Reynolds talks with Dave Fehling, energy and environment reporter for StateImpact Texas, an NPR reporting project, about oil refinery accidents and what happens when they're criminally prosecuted.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

It was the state’s worst industrial accident in nearly 50 years.

On a chilly April night in 2010, a giant fireball lit up the sky above Anacortes, Washington. A southeast wind pushed a plume of black smoke toward the heart of this seaside town an hour north of Seattle.

EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

Curtis Rookaird thinks BNSF Railway fired him because he took the time to test his train’s brakes.

The rail yard in Blaine, Washington, was on heightened security that day, he remembers, because of the 2010 Winter Olympics underway just across border in Vancouver, B.C.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

In the months following a deadly refinery explosion in Anacortes, Washington, in April 2010, federal investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board were ready to issue urgent safety recommendations. But management at the agency blocked the release of their urgent alert.

Chemical Safety Board

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is calling for 60 improvements in the design, operation and regulation of the Tesoro oil refinery in Anacortes and of refineries nationwide.

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