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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Spokane schools report high rate of flu

Spokane Public Schools administrators are reporting high rates of students who likely are sick with the flu.

School districts are required to send a report to the Spokane Regional Health District and the state anytime more than 10 percent of a school’s enrollment is sick with the flu. That has happened at about 10 of the district’s elementary schools in the past three weeks, district spokesman Kevin Morrison said.

“We are seeing an increased rate of the flu, more than we have in probably half a decade or a decade,” Morrison said. “For the last three years we haven’t had to report to the state. That is a pretty dramatic increase.”

On Thursday, Hamblen Elementary and Westview Elementary reported around 10 percent of students out with the flu. On Wednesday, Hutton Elementary was also on the list. The highest percentage of sick students, 23 percent, was reported at Linwood Elementary two weeks ago, Morrison said.

When a school hits the 10 percent mark, an extra cleaning crew is called in to sanitize surfaces that are frequently touched, Morrison said.

Nina Culver

Sawmill fined $151,800 for safety violations

The Columbia Cedar sawmill in Kettle Falls has been fined $151,800 for safety violations and failing to report an accident last year that seriously injured a worker.

The employee was hospitalized last June after he became entangled in a rotating shaft while he was trying to unplug a giant funnel called a hopper, according to the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. Bark had clogged the hopper, and the man was using a pipe to dislodge the jam. The equipment didn’t have a safety guard, and he was pulled into the machinery, said Tim Church, a Labor and Industries spokesman.

The company failed to report the worker’s hospitalization, officials said. By law, such accidents must be reported within eight hours.

A later inspection uncovered multiple safety violations, Church said. The most serious were employees working in close proximity to machinery without safety barriers to prevent them from getting caught in moving parts, he said.

Lori Fogle, Columbia Cedar’s safety and human resources manager, said in an email that the company is taking the issues raised in the inspection seriously, but will appeal the citation.

Becky Kramer

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