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$500 000 fine for three companies connected to trench collapse that killed 24-year-old

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Department of Labor and Industries fined three companies connected to the January trench collapse that killed a 24-year-old Chehalis man.

An investigation led to discovery of “numerous safety violations in connection with the incident,” ending with $500,000 fine for three companies.

Renewable Energy Systems-Americas (RES-Americas) System 3 was cited for eight violations totaling $360,874 and RES Americas Construction was cited for six violations totaling $184,800 related to the fatal death incident. A third company, GEMS, a medical service contractor, was cited for one serious violation and must pay $4,200. 

The finding stems from a January 9 workplace death at the Skookumchuck Wind Farm project where a pair of trench collapses led to one worker being critically injured and another killed. 

Records obtained by The Nisqually Valley News earlier this year shed new light on 24-year-old Jonathan Stringer’s efforts to save his coworker from a collapsed trench after the two were attempting to get a sleeve under a road culvert to install a cable for the turbines. 

Stringer’s coworker survived the incident, but Stringer died after being buried by a second collapse.

A report by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, which was one the first responders on scene, noted there was no shoring on the trench to prevent the collapse at the remote worksite, located 15 miles up narrow logging roads in a spot with poor cellphone service. 

The 38-turbine Skookumchuck Wind Project, originally set to begin operating in December 2019, has undergone multiple setbacks and has yet to be substantially completed. 

Though the company began erecting turbines starting April of this year, the project is not expected to go online until the end of 2020. 

Staff

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