520 bridge builders pledge to look into beer drinking
Potentially hundreds of Kiewit employees will be sent to alcohol-awareness trainings in the wake of a television report showing employees in a Bellevue office drinking beer and bringing more beer into the worksite.
Seattle Times transportation reporter
Kiewit will investigate the extent of alcohol use at all four of its Highway 520 worksites in Washington state and send potentially hundreds of employees to alcohol-awareness trainings, company officials said Thursday night.
The construction giant is reacting to news footage on KOMO television Tuesday that showed company workers in a Bellevue office hoisting bottles of beer, and arriving with a couple half-racks of beer in the afternoon.
That office has 50 to 55 staff members including schedulers, human-resource specialists and payroll administrators. There was not any engineering or final design work done there, said spokesman Tom Janssen, who flew out from Omaha, Neb., Thursday to talk to the press. He was joined by Area Manager Pat Soderberg at an office in Federal Way.
Also Thursday, the state Department of Labor and Industries said it will investigate and take a few weeks before issuing the results. State law requires employers to keep alcohol out of the workplace except products being sold to customers.
The partnership of Kiewit-General-Manson is working on Lake Washington to build columns and assemble the floating roadway for a new six-lane 520 bridge, under a $587 million contract.
The work includes an anchor-construction site in Kenmore. Kiewit is also in a partnership building pontoons at Grays Harbor and Tacoma. In all, about 500 office and crafts workers are employed, Soderberg said.
The highway widening and lid construction at Medina are being done by different companies that are not involved in the beer incident.
Janssen said that based on initial reports about the office beer drinking, "all indications are that these were social events that took place after hours." A typical workday goes from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., he said.
Nonetheless, details aren't confirmed yet, and any alcohol at the workplace violates company policy, he said.
Asked about corporate liability, in the event someone crashes a car after drinking in the office, "This is a safety issue, this is a quality issue, this is a people issue," Janssen said.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or email@example.com. On Twitter @mikelindblom.