Washington state fines fireworks company for safety violations in wake of fatal Tenino blast

Associated Press

The Washington state Department of Labor & Industries has fined a fireworks plant $1,200 for safety violations after investigating a fatal explosion in June.

Entertainment Fireworks in Tenino produces professional fireworks shows around the region. A 75-year-old man died after the explosion and two others were injured as workers were preparing shells for shipping.

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The official Labor & Industries citation issued Dec. 11 and released Monday says company employees were not following all the safety requirements for transferring explosive shells, which could have prevented or minimized any injuries from the explosion.

The rules limit the amount of explosive present at any time and go into precise details, such as which direction the employees should be facing while they move the shells, and what they should do in an emergency.

State safety inspectors also said the company wasn't sufficiently training its workers.

The company's vice president of operations, Ken Julian, said it will not appeal the fine. Julian called the Labor & Industries investigation fair and said the company will head its advice.

"This certainly is going to make us step back and do whatever is necessary," Julian said

The fatal explosion was the first major accident in the company's 19-year history, he said.

"All the people involved in that horrible accident had been very experienced with the procedure," Julian said. "The gentleman who lost his life had performed that procedure thousands of times."

The man who died, William Hill, of Olympia, was a long-time employee of Entertainment Fireworks, Julian said.