CHELAN COUNTY — A Chelan waterpark has been ordered to close immediately to prevent workers from being exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19). This action comes after a similar order from the state Department of Health last week.
Today, the state Department of Labor & Industries delivered an “Order and Notice of Immediate Restraint” directing the waterpark to cease operations until the business is approved to operate under the Governor’s Stay Home Stay Healthy Order.
In addition to the order and notice, after completing an inspection earlier this week, L&I has cited the company for putting workers at risk. As a result, Slidewaters faces a fine of nearly $10,000.
L&I responds to numerous complaints about Slidewaters
L&I inspectors went to the site on July 9 to open an inspection after the company disregarded other attempts to get them to close. The park’s owner would not allow L&I’s team inside, but during the visit, the agency noted that the park was open, people were paying for entry and going in, and there were multiple cars in the parking lot.
Before opening an inspection, the state received a handful of complaints about Slidewaters starting on June 18. The company was contacted to confirm it was open, and to notify them that they were in violation of the governor’s order. L&I also sent Slidewaters a letter on June 29 directing the waterpark to cease operations.
“For our state to win the fight against COVID-19, we all need to pull together and do what’s right for our communities,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director in charge of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). “Businesses are required under the law to protect the health and safety of their employees. This company clearly knows what the Safe Start requirements are, but is choosing to ignore them, putting workers and the community at risk.”
“It’s not right, and it is not fair to the thousands of businesses that are doing the right thing,” Soiza added.
Safe Start Approach
The governor’s Safe Start proclamation prohibits businesses from operating unless their county is in the appropriate phase of the statewide plan to reopen their economy and other aspects of daily living. Chelan County is in a modified Phase 1 of the four-phase state plan. That means waterparks should not be open.
Operating and serving customers exposes workers at Slidewaters to unacceptable risk of coronavirus exposure. As a result, L&I is citing the company for a Willful General violation and assessing a $9,639 fine. Slidewaters has 15 business days to appeal the L&I action.
The company faces a state Department of Health order as well. On Friday, July 10, the department ordered Slidewaters to take corrective action and immediately stop operating any general use spa, wading pool, spray pool, and recreational water contact facility regulated under WAC 246-262.
Several chances to comply
By the time L&I receives a Safe Start referral from the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC) team, the business has already been contacted by phone and, when possible, by email to ensure they understand the Safe Start rules. In most cases, businesses comply.
If employers say they won’t follow the rules or L&I receives more complaints, the department sends a warning letter that they could be fined if they remain open. Inspectors may later drive by the businesses to make sure they’re complying. If they’re open, the case is referred to an L&I Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigator, who inspects the work site in person and may issue a citation.
People who believe a business is violating Safe Start rules can report it online.