Kingdome Crane Firms Face Fines -- State Cites Safety Violations At Site


TUMWATER, Thurston County - The state Department of Labor and Industries yesterday cited and fined three companies more than $6,000 for workplace violations found after a fatal crane accident at the Kingdome last summer.

Kent's Sicklesteel Cranes of South Puget Sound, Sunnen Crane Service of Tacoma, and Whatcom-Skagit Crane Service of Bellingham were involved in renovation work on the Kingdome ceiling.

William Louth, 37, of Portland and Jorge Turincio, 39, of San Diego were killed in the Aug. 17 accident. The sandblasters were being lifted toward the ceiling of the Dome when the basket they were in hit the ceiling. The crane's boom collapsed and the men fell about 250 feet to their deaths.

The three contractors cited yesterday were not directly involved in the crane crash.

Yesterday, Labor and Industries announced that those companies have been cited for a total of 14 "serious" violations of safety and health regulations. A "serious" violation is one in which there is a reasonable possibility that serious injury or death could result.

Don Ryan, president of Whatcom-Skagit Crane, said his company would appeal the fine. He said a majority of the violations were "a very nitpicking interpretation of the rules."

"We have never been cited before and we have been in business for 30 years," Ryan said.

Telephone messages left with Sicklesteel and Sunnen were not returned.

Sicklesteel Cranes was fined $1,770 for failing to ensure that:

-- The company's accident prevention program was tailored to the needs of the Kingdome project;

-- Radio communications between crane operators and employees in the personnel platforms were discernible and audible at all time;

-- Jibs of the cranes were maintained in safe operating condition;

-- Sept. 18, a 30-inch clearance was maintained between the personnel platform and the Dome ceiling;

-- Operators of both cranes knew the actual weight of their load.

Sunnen Cranes was fined $1,670 for the same first three violations as Sicklesteel Crane, plus a fourth violation of failing to comply with the manufacturer's or a qualified engineer's specifications and limitations while jib-attached personnel platforms were being used in conjunction with the cranes.

Whatcom-Skagit Cranes was fined $2,730 for the same four violations as Sunnen, plus a fifth violation of failing to ensure a thorough annual inspection of the Linkbelt HTC-111 crane.

The contractors have 15 working days to appeal.

Last month, three other Seattle contractors - Pacific Components Homes Inc., Long Painting Co. and Ness Crane Services - were fined more than $39,000 for health and safety violations found after the Aug. 17 accident. Those three have appealed their citations to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.

Earlier, Pacific Components Inc., general contractor, was fined $10,450 for multiple violations. Long Painting, the men's employer, was fined $12,290 and Ness Crane was fined $16,300.