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‘Safety Stand-Down’ campaign helps prevent construction falls and saves lives

Each year falls cause more disabling injuries and deaths in Washington than any other workplace hazard, and construction workers die from falls more than workers in any other industry. Sixteen workers died at Washington construction sites in 2017; 10 of those were from falls.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is committed to reducing the number of fall-related injuries and deaths. The agency partners every year with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to sponsor a “Safety Stand-Down” at worksites across the state. This year’s event runs the week of May 7-11.

During the stand-down, construction employers are encouraged to voluntarily take time to discuss fall hazards and how to prevent falls with workers. Stand-down events take a variety of forms like a short toolbox talk, refresher training, reviewing safety bulletins or watching a safety video.

“Falls from heights, such as from a ladder or roof, are the number one cause of hospitalizations and deaths in our workplaces every year,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “It’s all the more heartbreaking because every one of them is preventable.”

To help employers with their stand-down events, L&I provides various tools on its Safety Stand-Down resources website, including safety videos and training documents. Employers can learn more about the stand-down and get some ideas about how to host an event.

The department also encourages employers to share their feedback and success stories on the stand-down website. Employers who host stand-down events and complete the online feedback survey are eligible to receive free gear. They may also print out a certificate of participation on the website and add their names to a list of Safety Stand-Down supporters.

Robnett adds to law enforcement Endorsements to be County Prosecutor

Mary Robnett, non-partisan candidate for Pierce County prosecutor, has secured another key law enforcement endorsement. The Washington State Patrol Troopers Association (WSPTA) announced it is endorsing Robnett, joining the Pierce County Deputy Sheriffs Guild, the Pierce County Corrections and Sergeants Guild, and former Pierce County Prosecutor Gerry Horne.

“Police and prosecutors work closely together in stressful situations and difficult cases. I have so much respect for law enforcement officers, including our State Patrol troopers, and the difficult and often heroic work they do,” Robnett said. “I’m pleased to earn WSPTA’s endorsement because it helps drive the point home that we need a professional prosecutor heading the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office again.”

In conferring his group’s endorsement, Doug Clevenger of the WSPTA said: “Mary Robnett is the real deal. When our members are out there keeping the community safe and making important arrests, they need to know these cases are being turned over to a professional prosecutor with the right experience. That’s Mary Robnett, through and through.”

South Sound Business Summit draws 140 business owners

About 140 local small business owners and supporters gathered at STAR Center on May 1 to celebrate small business in the South Sound and to learn from local leaders about how to grow and improve their business.

This year attendees learned from Brian Harding, an owner of The Plumbing & Drain Company in Sumner, about how he went from having his global headquarters in his living room to a multi-million dollar company within five years.

Greg Towne of The John Maxwell Team talked about some of the key steps in increasing your sales influence, which included how to develop referral opportunities and how to stay on top of mind with your current clients.

The South Sound Business Summit had a special guest, Jeremy Field, the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration for the Northwest. Field shared the ways the SBA has been helping small businesses in the South Sound and beyond.

Jude Larson of JML Real Solutions convinced people to get out of their comfort zone and showed how that can benefit their businesses and in life.

Premier Media Group’s Josh Dunn finished the speaker series by talking about how to work on your business and not in your business. Dunn explained the importance of taking time for yourself to think globally and the success that can come from taking a personal retreat.

The summit concluded with an expert panel where the audience was able to pose questions to Nicole Fisher and Rick Peterson of Jeff Baker & Associates about accounting, Ken Swarner with NW Military about how the growing JBLM population can help business, Abbie Cates, owner of KnifeForkSpoon, a year-old women-owned business, about the challenges she had faced, and Gwen Kohl of Spaceworks of Tacoma about resources that are available to small businesses in the South Sound.

The first full week of May was National Small Business Week in America. Every year since 1963, the president of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, which create two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

This event was sponsored by Paul Long, Timberland Bank, STAR Center, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, Fife Milton Edgewood Chamber of Commerce, Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce, Lacey Chamber of Commerce, Copy Wrights Printing, South Sound Biz (Premier Media Group), Released to See Photography and Videography, Pugetsoundveteranbusiness.com, Northwest Military, Anthem Coffee and Wine Bar and Grit City Bakery.

Thief stole 20 bikes used to teach children bike safety

Be on the look out for a load of bikes. Twenty bicycles and the trailer they were housed in were stolen from Bethel Middle School over the weekend. This was the entire fleet of bikes that was funded by OSPI, WSDOT, and Cascade Bicycle Club. The bikes traveled to each of the middle schools during the year so that students had an opportunity to learn safe cycling during P.E.

The trailer full of bikes was secured with hardened locks on each of its doors and a sturdy hitch lock, which should have prevented it from being driven away. It was parked behind a locked gate. A police report has been filed.

The trailer is a 2016 Mirage Xcel. The license plate number is A8106C.

All 20 of the bikes are 2015 Specialized Roll Entry models. The frames are red and the bikes have wide tires with a pressure gauge in them. The bikes were purchased from Old Town Bicycle in Gig Harbor and feature reflective stickers bearing the shop’s name near the bottom of the frames.

If you have information regarding the bikes or the trailer, contact the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Gas is on the rise for the summer

Average retail gasoline prices in Tacoma have risen 1 cent per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.30 per gallon, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 271 gas outlets in Tacoma. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.9 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.80 per gallon.

Including the change in gas prices in Tacoma during the past week, prices were 41.6 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 10.2 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 14.5 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 46.5 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

“The rise in gas prices has slowed substantially in the last week in some places, with 15 states seeing gas prices move lower versus last week,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “While we may not be out of the woods yet, especially with President Trump mulling over the Iran nuclear deal, it’s possible we’re very close. Much will depend on his decision on the subject. Killing the deal may inflict more pain on motorists as it may lead to sanctions placed on Iran and their oil production, which would likely push oil prices higher. With summer gasoline now phased in and reaching motorists’ gas tanks across the country, it is no longer an active issue pushing prices up. Oil’s moves and possible moves will likely be the key catalyst behind changes at the pump in the weeks ahead as summer driving season soon gets underway. Motorists should expect the national average to drift around in the upper $2 per gallon range for much of the summer.”

Pierce County Library offers volunteer opportunities for teens

The Teen Library Corps is open to teens, ages 14-18, and is available at nine Pierce County Library locations. Students will volunteer at a participating library from June 23 to Sept. 2. Through volunteering, students gain valuable skills and experience that will reflect well on a college application and resume.

“The Teen Library Corps is a huge opportunity for teenagers in building valuable leadership experience,” said Pierce County Library executive director Georgia Lomax. “It will also benefit our communities, because the teenagers will give us their ideas and opinions for programs and services they think will help best serve teenagers and families.”

Teen Library Corps volunteer opportunities will be at the following libraries:

  • Gig Harbor Pierce County Library, 4424 Point Fosdick Dr. NW
  • Lakewood Pierce County Library, 6300 Wildaire Rd. SW
  • Milton/Edgewood Pierce County Library, 900 Meridian E., Suite 29, Milton
  • Parkland/Spanaway Pierce County Library, 13718 Pacific Ave. S., Parkland
  • South Hill Pierce County Library, 15420 Meridian E., Puyallup
  • Steilacoom Pierce County Library, 2950 Steilacoom Blvd.
  • Summit Pierce County Library, 5107 112th St. E., Tacoma
  • Sumner Pierce County Library, 1116 Fryar Ave.
  • University Place Pierce County Library, 3609 Market Place W., Suite 100

E-mail teenvolunteers@piercecountylibrary.org for an application and apply today! Priority application deadline is June 15. For more information about volunteer opportunities at the library, visit volunteer.pcls.us.

Gain skills, hear advice, Get Hired

The job market is more competitive than ever. Residents can gain an edge to Get Hired with help from the Pierce County Library System. The Get Hired program provides expert job help, training and employment resources in partnership with WorkForce Central and WorkSource.

“The market for employment can be tough,” said Pierce County Library executive director Georgia Lomax. “Tools such as free Microsoft certification, Lynda.com and talking to job experts help strengthen career success for people looking for jobs or gaining better skills and knowledge for their current job.”

Available workshops include:

Job Hunting for Mature Workers
Learn how to address issues such as over-qualification or career changes.

Friday, June 15, from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
South Hill Pierce County Library, 15420 Meridian E., South Hill

Prepare for Job Interviews
Learn the benefits of pre-interview prep and how to respond to tough questions in the most positive way possible.

Wednesday, May 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. 
University Place Pierce County Library, 3609 Market Place W., Suite 100, University Place

Tuesday, June 5, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Fife Pierce County Library, 6622 20th St. E., Fife

Stress Management
Address how stress impacts job seekers during the employment search and how to manage it, including: defining stress and how it impacts lives, job seeker depression, anxiety, self-confidence in the job search, post-traumatic stress disorder, and self-care.

Wednesday, May 16, from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
University Place Pierce County Library, 3609 Market Place W., Suite 100, University Place

Friday, June 15, from 2 to 4 p.m.
South Hill Pierce County Library, 15420 Meridian E., South Hill

Get Hired Help
Learn more tech skills or get help writing a resume from library and WorkSource staff. Arrive by 3 p.m. to be guaranteed help.

Wednesday, May 23, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Parkland/Spanaway Pierce County Library, 13718 Pacific Ave. S., Parkland

Tuesday, June 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
Fife Pierce County Library, 6622 20th St. E., Fife

Wednesday, June 27, from 2 to 4 p.m. 
Administrative Center and Library, 3005 112th St. E., Tacoma

Many classes require registration. Visit calendar.piercecountylibrary.org/events and select Get Hired under events, to register or find additional classes. Visit gethired.pcls.us to access online resources and information about free technology certification.

AG supports lawsuit against major oil companies

Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined California and New Jersey in supporting two California cities’ challenge against the world’s five largest investor-owned fossil fuel companies for their role in causing climate change.

In the amicus, or “friend of the court” brief, filed in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California, the attorneys general ask the court to deny the fossil fuel companies’ motion to dismiss the cities’ challenge.

“Climate change is damaging Washington’s environment and our businesses, and fossil fuels are a major culprit,” Ferguson said. “These powerful corporations must be held accountable for hiding the evidence about the harms caused by fossil fuels.”

“Cities and states around the nation — including Washington state — are directly harmed by the fossil fuel companies who have been knowingly polluting our air for decades,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Fossil fuel companies were aware of the risks posed by their products and devoted billions of dollars to undermining the public’s understanding of fossil fuel consumption on the climate. These companies must be held accountable for the eroding coastlines, growing disaster recovery cost and other impacts that we now face due to their deception.”

In September 2017, the city attorneys for San Francisco and Oakland filed lawsuits against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The lawsuit alleges the companies promoted pervasive use of fossil fuels, despite knowing for decades that fossil fuels cause global climate change. The cities argue that sea level rise and other climate effects harm them.

The companies filed a motion to dismiss the cities’ lawsuits, arguing that the complaint poses a “political question” and cannot be reviewed by the court.

The states’ amicus brief argues that the states have a particular interest in climate change, and the courts have previously ruled that the court can review these kinds of claims.

Sea levels in Seattle are projected to rise seven inches by 2050, increasing storm surges and flooding, according to the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group. Washington experiences many negative effects of climate change, including rising ambient temperatures, a diminished and unpredictable snowpack necessary for water consumption and hydropower generation, and ocean warming and acidification, which is harmful to Washington’s shellfishery.

Protecting the environment has been one of Ferguson’s top priorities. In 2016, he created the Counsel for Environmental Protection, a legal unit led by Assistant Attorney General Bill Sherman, to protect our environment and the safety and health of all Washingtonians.

Ferguson has filed 26 lawsuits against the current administration, more than half of which relate to environmental protection. The Attorney General’s Office prevailed in all six cases against the Trump administration that are completed. There are no more appeals in these six cases. Five of the six wins are related to environmental protection. Ferguson has succeeded in three more cases that could still be appealed. Ferguson has filed 14 amicus briefs in cases involving the federal government, eight regarding the environment.

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