Prosecutors have filed a criminal charge against a landscaping company after a 19-year-old worker was killed by a rotating auger inside the hopper of a truck.
Bradley Hogue was killed while working inside the hopper of the bark-blowing truck for Pacific Topsoils of Everett, WA, in 2014.
King County, WA, prosecutors filed one criminal charge of violating a safety regulation resulting in death against the company. The maximum penalty for the criminal charge is $100,000.
The Washington Department of Labor and Industries found workers were regularly assigned to clear jams in the bark-blower hoppers while the machines were operating.
L&I fined Pacific Topsoils $199,000 for 16 safety violations.
Inspectors issued two willful violations totaling $108,000 for failing to ensure lockout/tagout procedures were regularly used and failing to train workers on those procedures. Pacific Topsoils also faces a dozen serious violations for confined space hazards. L&I says the company didn’t implement safe work practices for employee entering permit-required confined spaces.
Two more serious violations were for failing to document lockout/tagout procedures and not having an effective injury prevention program.
The company is contesting the L&I fines.
Pacific Topsoils says it’s “disappointed” the criminal charge was filed. A company statement said:
“Since July 7, 2014, the day of the accident, we have worked to ensure something like this never happens again. We have worked closely with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and outside safety consultants to improve practices, safety, training and equipment. We have written procedures and standardized training on them for all employees. The lessons learned from our experience are now being applied throughout our industry to ensure a high level of worker safety.”
The company also said its thoughts and prayers are with Hogue’s family.
“To me, it was so easy to prevent this and nothing was done,” Alan Hogue, Bradley’s father, said to komonews.com.