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workplace safety

Farmworkers march in protest of working conditions at Sarbanand Farms on Wednesday, August 8, 2017, after a fellow worker, Honesto Silva Ibarra, 28, died on Sunday. Click or tap on this image for more photos.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

SUMAS, WASHINGTON — They walked along a dusty, country road, fields of ripe blueberries stretching for miles. 


KUOW file photo/Liz Jones

Labor tensions have erupted at a berry farm in Sumas, Washington, on the border with Canada. Advocates say more than 120 people have walked off the job after a worker fell ill and later died.

KUOW/John Ryan

Eleven states including Washington have sued the Trump administration to improve safety at the nation’s refineries and chemical plants.

The lawsuit, led by New York's Attorney General, aims to force the Environmental Protection Agency to revive safety rules enacted in the final days of the Obama administration.

Workshop Set For Injured Hispanic Workers In Yakima

Jul 14, 2017

An activist plans to hold a workshop in the Yakima Valley Saturday for injured workers who are Hispanic. It’s part of an effort to make sure more Spanish-speaking workers benefit from state services. 

Tesoro workers killed in a 2010 refinery explosion are commemorated outside city hall in Everett, Washington.
KUOW Photo / Bond Huberman

The largest workplace-safety fine in Washington history has been overturned.

A state appeals judge on Friday rejected a $2.4 million fine that oil company Tesoro faced after an explosion that killed seven workers in Anacortes.

Teresa, an immigrant from Mexico has worked at a pork processing plant in Lincoln, Neb., since 2011. She didn't want to use her last name because she feared that a family member, who still works at a plant, might get in trouble.

Teresa worked on the line, or "the chain," as workers call it. It is the heartbeat of any meat processing plant. It's the mechanized driver of eviscerated hogs, cattle and chickens, hung up on hooks and quickly moving down a line at these massive meat factories.

Tesoro workers killed in a 2010 refinery explosion are commemorated outside city hall in Everett, Washington.
KUOW Photo / Bond Huberman

A nearly six-year-long legal battle drew to a close Thursday when attorneys made their final arguments on whether Texas oil company Tesoro is responsible for an explosion that killed seven workers at its refinery in Anacortes, Washington, in 2010.


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.

The Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, one of Washington's top 10 sources of greenhouse gases.
Flickr Photo/Scott Butner (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e4EJ5B

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included the Washington Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals’ mistaken assertion that Tesoro’s fines had been reduced to $858,500. The correct figure is $658,500.

Safer practices and better steel could have prevented a deadly explosion at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash., in 2010, according to a new report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.  

The blast killed seven workers.

Courtesy of Jon Rongey

Last January, Mike Rongey, a seasoned climber, was assigned to climb a cell phone tower in Mount Vernon, Wash., to replace electronics that are part of the Clearwire wireless network.

Tuesday's terrifying incident at an elementary school near Atlanta — in which a gunman with an assault rifle and other weapons entered the building — ended with no one being hurt after a school clerk apparently spent about an hour talking to the young man. She says she persuaded him to put down his gun and surrender.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

It’s hard enough to stay healthy at work. But imagine working at a candy factory, surrounded by sweet temptations. At Brown and Haley in Tacoma, workers are getting help to change their health habits. The candy maker and other employers in Pierce County are part of a national pilot program.

KUOW/John Ryan

The Shell Oil Co. refinery in Anacortes, Wash., sprang a leak last week. Shell quickly shut down the equipment that was boiling oil to make gasoline, but the shutdown led to a release of toxic gases.