Fatal science demo nets utility company, school fines (12/13)
Bob Smith, 50, an Othello, Wash., line foreman for Spokane-based Avista Corp., died May 31 after being thrown from the elevated bucket of a utility boom truck.
The bucket dropped 20 to 30 feet when the boom separated from its base and fell during an annual "egg drop" demonstration at an elementary school in front of hundreds of students, parents and teachers.
Fifth-grade teacher Melissa Martinez also was in the bucket and was hospitalized from the fall but survived.
The state fined Avista Corp. $17,600 for three citations and fined Hiawatha Elementary School $6,300 for two citations.
Avista was cited for not making sure employees wore a full-body harness with attached lanyard while in the elevated bucket; for not making sure boom operators were properly trained; and for not making sure the bucket operators inspected the equipment before operating it.
Hiawatha Elementary School, where the accident occurred, was fined for failing to provide proper training for teachers who went up in the elevated bucket and for not making sure they wore harnesses while in the air.
While Avista will pay the fines and comply with the department's requested actions, the utility did take those precautions, said Jessie Wuerst, communications manager for the utility. However, the company didn't adequately document that those procedures were in place, she said.
The school district hasn't decided whether to pay the fines or appeal the citations, according to the newspaper report. The district has 15 business days to decide.