MOSES LAKE - A 56-year-old man was crushed to death when a wall toppled over on him at a chemical warehouse in Moses Lake.
Bill Massey, 56, of Soap Lake, reportedly died shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Two Rivers Terminal facility on Wheeler Road Northeast, prior to the arrival of emergency medical personnel, according to Assistant Fire Chief Pete Kunjara on Monday.
Moses Lake Fire Capt. Dave Holle, who was among the first responders, said the wall was constructed of large concrete blocks that apparently fell over under the weight of fertilizer bags that were being stacked against the wall's other side.
Massey was the only one in the immediate area of the wall at the time of the collapse and no one else was injured, he said.
His body was recovered from the rubble and Moses Lake Police assisted Grant County Coroner Chief Investigator Jerry Jasman at the scene.
Two Rivers Terminal - a division of the Idaho-based company Land View Inc. - is a wholesale warehouse facility that distributes agricultural fertilizers and chemicals. The company has facilities in Moses Lake, Pasco and Umatilla, Oregon.
This is the first fatality in the company's history and the first major safety incident in the seven years the Two Rivers Terminal facility has existed, Land View Safety Director Ken High said.
"We are absolutely devastated," High said. "Our first thoughts and concerns go to his family. We grieve with the family."
High said the incident is under investigation and the company is working closely with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), a division of the Washington Division of Labor and Industries and the state's equivalent of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
By law, DOSH investigates all occupational fatalities and all catastrophic incidences in workplaces where employees are present, according to the organization. The primary focus of a DOSH investigation is to determine whether the employer was protecting its workers properly at the time the accident happened.
Two Rivers Terminal was inspected on two prior occasions for safety violations, according to Labor and Industries spokeswoman Elaine Fischer.
In April 2010, the company was reportedly fined $1,000 for one "serious violation," defined as any violation likely to result in serious injury or death. The violation involved guardrails on a platform lift that reportedly exposed employees to falls, Fischer said.
Also at that time the company received a general violation, or one in which the violation itself would not lead to an employee being injured, for not ensuring appropriate warnings were displayed about the safety and stability of the lift.
In July 2010, the company was fined $1,800 for two serious violations, according to Fischer.
The first was for not ensuring employees were wearing necessary personal protection equipment when processing fertilizer that can cause burns, Fischer said. The other was reportedly for not ensuring all equipment was in safe condition, a violation related to a specific incident where an employee suffered chemical burns when a hose was not secured.
Fischer said she could not comment on any possible violations related to Massey's death.
"We don't release any of our findings until our investigations are closed," she said. "These usually take at least a couple of months and in a case where someone has died it usually takes longer than that ... Obviously if there is a hazardous situation the employer would have to take steps to remedy that as soon as they're able to."