(Originally posted at 2:00 p.m. MT, Feb. 12, 2013; updated at 5:44 p.m. MT.)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a citation related to the fatality of Anne Veseth, a 20-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter from Moscow, Idaho who was killed August 12, 2012 while working on the Steep Corner Fire near Orofino, Idaho. The citation was issued to the organization managing the fire, the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association (CPTPA). The citation comes with a “Notification of Penalty”, fines totaling $14,000.
OSHA also issued a Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions to the U.S. Forest Service, but without a monetary penalty.
Ms. Veseth was killed by a falling tree, when one tree fell and crashed into another tree, causing it to fall in a domino effect. The day before she was killed, the Flathead Hotshots arrived at the fire, and after scouting it and assessing the situation, they concluded it was not safe to work under the conditions that were present. Then they left the fire after talking with the incident commander. Three days later they filed a SAFENET report, documenting the unsafe conditions at the fire.
The Citation for the CPTPA and the Notice for the USFS were both dated February 7, 2013.
The CPTPA citation was for the following:
- Serious violation: For not providing a safe working environment; 8 of the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders were violated, and they did not mitigate 11 of the 18 Watch Out Situations. Proposed penalty: $4,900.
- Serious violation: employees engaged in wildland firefighting were exposed to being struck by hazard trees while constructing fire line. Proposed penalty: $4,900.
- Serious violation: Firefighters constructing direct fire line did not have fire shelters readily available. Firefighters constructing fire line were wearing denim and work pants not rated as fire resistant. Proposed penalty: $4,200.
The U.S. Forest Service Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions was for the following:
- Serious Violation: 7 of the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders were violated, and they did not mitigate 9 of the 18 Watch Out Situations.
- Repeat Violation: employees engaged in wildland firefighting were exposed to being struck by hazard trees while constructing fire line.
If the violations are not contested they must be abated by various dates in March, 2013, and the fine must be paid within 15 working days.