WDFW statement on March 2024 L&I Wind River incident report

WDFW statement

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) met with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) for a closing conference on Feb. 27, 2024. The agencies identified safety violations related to the Wind River incident. 

In March, L&I delivered a final report to WDFW. The report included citations that the agency is required to correct within 30 days.

The findings of the L&I report require WDFW to pay a $30,800 penalty to L&I within 15 days and correct and provide the following for the Region 5 (Southwest Washington) snorkel team:

  • Verify that each employee that is conducting field work has their own emergency device and update the agency’s field communication policy.
  • Update the agency’s snorkel procedures manual.
  • Confirm that all staff conducting snorkel surveys receive the necessary required training before starting work.
  • Update agency standards and protocols on equipment needed in first-aid kits based on the potential hazards staff could be exposed to.

“We take these findings seriously and are committed to working with our staff and L&I to make the necessary adjustments for safety,” said Kelly Susewind, WDFW director. 

Since the Wind River incident in September 2023, WDFW has already worked toward addressing some of the violations. 

The Department immediately suspended snorkel surveys following the incident and implemented the following safety improvements:

  • required personal flotation device training and use for all staff that work in, on, or around water,
  • implemented improvements to the check-in/check-out system for staff that work alone or in remote places,
  • created more safety training statewide, 
  • bought additional safety equipment such as Garmin InReach devices, first-aid kits, and personal flotation devices, and
  • implemented a statewide safety stand-up to evaluate and clarify safety protocols among all work units.

L&I will post the full report to their website.

More information on the incident on the Wind River in Skamania County, Sept. 2023: Wind River, Skamania County incident | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

Media contact: communications@dfw.wa.gov

Request this information in an alternative format or language at wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation, 833-885-1012, TTY (711), or CivilRightsTeam@dfw.wa.gov.