Assisted living community fined $102,060 for worker health violations

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A senior living community in Wenatchee, WA, faces $102,060 in fines for allegedly making workers manually lift residents, not developing an accident prevention program and other violations.

One of the reasons the fine against Columbia Heights, a Bonaventure retirement and assisted living community, is so large, according to the state Department of Labor and Industries, is that the community was cited for some of the same violations in May but did not correct them.

The community faces a $67,200 fine for not addressing the lifting situation for workers, exposing them “to possible serious and disabling back, shoulder or neck injuries,” the department maintains. Columbia Heights also is being fined $33,600 for not developing a formal accident prevention program tailored to the hazards of the workplace, including ways to protect workers from injuries associated with transferring and repositioning residents.

“Sprains and strains caused by excessive and repetitive lifting are the most common and costly type of workplace injury in most industries,” according to the state Department of Labor and Industries. “Records show there have been 15 sprain and strain injuries at this facility in recent years.”

Columbia Heights also was penalized $280 for each of two repeat general violations: not identifying all of the hazardous chemicals in the workplace and not ensuring that copies of the safety data sheet for each chemical were available onsite. An additional $700 fine was levied for failing to certify that the safety and health requirements had been corrected.

Columbia Heights did not respond to a request for comment from McKnight's Senior Living. The community has appealed the citation, according to the department.

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