Rock Island Dam death probe results released

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Rock Island Dam
Rock Island Dam.

WENATCHEE,WA- Chelan County PUD assumes full responsibility for the death of a Rock Island Dam worker last summer. A third-party independent investigation blames design flaws in a spillgate crane mechanisim that caused the death of Eddie Bromiley. The probe also revealed the PUD’s failure to address earlier worker alarms over the problem. Harold Malkin with the law firm, Lane Powell presented his findings to PUD Commissioners Tuesday morning.

Bromiley was killed last June when he was struck by a steel swing-rail while crane testing near one of the dam spill gates. Malkin cited two main causes of the accident .

The investigation concludes that, for the most part, latent design weakness from the 1990s was the engineering root cause.  At least one employee recalls there being a recognition of the design weakness in the 1990s. But the lack of procedures for documenting safety concerns in the 1990s led to none of the PUD employees associated with the spillway operation at the time of the incident being aware of the design issue or its risk.

The investigator’s report identifies three engineering recommendations and two human and organizational performance improvement recommendations. The PUD has committed to fully implementing all five recommendations. These cover areas such as changes to dam spillway design, new procedures for crane lifts and assessment of employees’ awareness of safety reporting systems.

PUD General Manager, Steve Wright reported that changes are ongoing to address the findings of the investigation.

“Since June, we have been keenly focused on supporting an investigation that needed to be thorough, comprehensive, and was completely candid with its advice and recommendations,” Wright said. “We are committed to using that information to make the PUD a safer work environment.”

The report from the independent investigation, conducted by the Lane Powell law firm of Seattle, is available on the PUD website.

Bromiley’s death also resulted in the PUD being fined 6-thousand dollars for workplace violations by Washington State Labor and Industries.