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DOE Cites Washington Closure Hanford for Safety Violations

August 19, 2010 - 12:00am


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Energy has issued a Preliminary Notice of Violation (PNOV) to contractor Washington Closure Hanford (WCH) for violations of DOE's worker safety and health program regulations in 2009 at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington State.

In a continued effort to maintain the highest level of worker safety at DOE sites, the PNOV was issued after safety violations occurred during pre-demolition activities in the High Bay Testing Facility (336 Building), located in Hanford's 300 Area. On July 1, 2009, a WCH worker stepped into an open hatch on a service catwalk in the facility, resulting in a fall of approximately 50 feet to a concrete floor.  The worker sustained a serious injury to his back and broke bones in both legs. 

As a result, in August 2009, the Department reduced the contractor's fee by $2.3 million, while also providing WCH with an opportunity to mitigate a portion of the fee reduction by taking corrective actions to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.  DOE has assessed those corrective actions, and based on their effectiveness and other factors, has mitigated the initial fee reduction by $600,000.  This resulted in a final determination that $1.7 million in fee will be withheld from WCH.

The PNOV cites multiple violations of 10 C.F.R. Part 851, Worker Safety and Health Program, and regulations invoked by Part 851 and promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, including 29 C.F.R. Part 1910, Occupational Safety and Health Standards, and 29 C.F.R. Part 1926, Safety and Health Regulations for Construction.  Specific violations were associated with fall protection and ladder safety, and applicable construction safety provisions relevant to managing facilities slated for closure and demolition.  In lieu of a civil penalty, DOE elected to administer the contract fee reduction for the violations.

The Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 authorizes the Department to take regulatory actions under 10 C.F.R. Part 851, against contractors for violations of its worker safety and health requirements. DOE's Enforcement Program encourages contractors to identify and correct worker safety and health deficiencies at an early stage, before they contribute to or result in more serious events. 

Additional details on this and other enforcement actions are available from the Office of Health, Safety and Security's Office of Enforcement.

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