Beer-drinking employees spell trouble over bridged water
Counseling for employees drinking on the job while working on the state Highway 520 bridge project seems like not a strong enough penalty.
Seattle Times Editorial
DRINKING beer on the job should get you fired.
That is, unless you work building a taxpayer-funded $587 million bridge that someday will carry hundreds of thousands of commuters across Lake Washington.
In that case, you may just need to sit through some training sessions with a counselor to discuss alcohol issues. It's likely you will have plenty of company because all employees — not just the tipplers — may be required to attend.
Such is the case with employees of a Kiewit construction team who were caught on a KOMO-TV hidden camera in their company's temporary office, beers in hand or on their desks. The station also showed more suds arriving at the Bellevue office and found the lunchroom fridge stocked with two 12-packs.
While counseling sessions are certainly needed in this case, it seems a very light slap on the wrist for workers entrusted to build new spans and support columns over the shoreline, widen the Eastside approaches to the bridge and assemble the floating pontoons that will carry traffic.
The state Department of Labor and Industries says it will investigate, and Kiewit says it will do its own probe into the extent of alcohol use at all four of its Highway 520 work sites. The company says no engineering or final-design work was being done at the watering hole.
Engineering and design work or not, the incident undermines the confidence citizens should have in the builders of public projects. Employers in Washington state are required to prohibit alcohol and narcotics in all workplaces, and alcohol use during work shifts is a violation of Kiewit's own policy.
Kiewit says safety is paramount on all its projects, and a spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation says that a "pocket of some kind of activity with alcohol" should not besmirch the company's overall record.
If the company and the state are serious about safety and the company's record, the employees responsible should face more serious consequences than merely counseling, up to and including firing.