A Puyallup construction company now faces a hefty fine after repeated safety violations that exposed workers to various hazards at an Olympia construction site.

J & I Construction has been fined a total of $203,420 by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries for 13 violations, including several the department considers “willful and repeat-serious.”

Specifically, the three willful violations — each with a penalty of $42,000 — were for not providing proper fall protection to three employees who were working on the top edge of a wall nearly 20 feet off the ground. The company has been cited two other times for the same issue.

J & I was also cited for three repeat-serious violations for not having a plan outlining the fall hazards on the specific job, exposing workers to unguarded wall openings that they could fall through, and for not ensuring that workers didn’t stand or step on the top of a self-supporting ladder. Each violation carries a penalty of $21,000.

“Seven construction workers fell to their deaths last year in our state,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “Falls continue to be the leading cause of construction worker deaths and hospitalizations, and yet they are completely preventable by using proper fall protection and following safe work practices.”

Additional violations include not having railings on open-sided stairs to protect employees from falls; not ensuring that employees wore hard hats where there was a danger of flying or falling objects; not having safety springs on nail guns to protect against accidental discharges; not conducting walk-around safety inspections; and having no one onsite with a valid first-aid card.

The inspection began in May when an L&I employee saw three workers exposed to fall hazards while installing trusses. As a result of the willful and repeat-serious violations, J & I is now considered a “severe violator” and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist in the future.