Washington L&I Fines Construction Company for Endangering Teen Workers

Washington L&I Fines Construction Company for Endangering Teen Workers

Rotschy LLC faces more than $200,000 in fines for violating child labor laws.

Rotschy LLC—a construction company in Vancouver, Washington—has been fined $208,059 for violating child labor and safety regulations. This action follows an incident in the summer of 2023 where a 16-year-old employee suffered injuries while operating a walk-behind trencher on a construction site, resulting in the loss of both legs.

According to a release dated March 24, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) initially imposed a $156,259 penalty on Rotschy for failing to ensure proper training and experience for workers operating dangerous equipment. The recent addition of $51,800 in fines pertains specifically to child labor law infringements.

“There are some jobs that state law says minor workers just can’t do, for their own safety,” Bryan Templeton, manager of L&I’s Employment Standards Program, said in a statement. “But the law can only prevent tragic injuries like this when they’re followed. Rotschy knew the rules but still put seven different teenage workers in harm’s way nearly three dozen times.”

L&I’s investigations revealed that Rotschy permitted seven minors to use or be dangerously close to heavy machinery on 35 occasions. Additionally, the company failed to provide legally mandated meal breaks 45 times for 11 minor workers and allowed eight young employees to work longer than state laws permit during school days more than 150 times. In one case, a minor's workday began before 5 a.m.

L&I had already cited Rotschy with a “willful serious” workplace safety and health violation in December 2023 for the same incident. Following the latest findings, L&I has suspended Rotschy’s student learner exemption and has already received payment for the fines. However, the company has appealed December’s safety citation.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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