DOT, L&I also investigating drinking at office

A “comprehensive investigation” into alcohol being consumed at the administrative offices for the Highway 520 floating bridge project in Bellevue found “no evidence that the quality or safety of the project was ever compromised,” according to a media statement from contractor Kiewit, which is in charge of the office.

The contractor says that five senior managers would be suspended without pay. For just how long is unknown. Kiewit spokesman Tom Janssen didn’t return a message seeking comment on Thursday.

Besides the suspensions, other employees will be provided counselors and training “to ensure employees understand the responsible and appropriate use of alcohol and its potential dangers,” the statement says.

The company says it interviewed employees of the project, as well as state employees and reviewed media reports, such as the KOMO 4 investigation that used hidden cameras last month to find that workers had been drinking on the job.

“We confirmed that drinking did occur sporadically in our offices, but was done at the end of employees’ work days, primarily on Fridays during social occasions,” Kiewit said in its release. “We found no evidence of workers consuming alcohol while engaged in work in the field or doing anything besides end-of-day office administrative tasks.”

The release states that the company sometimes bought alcohol for its employees at special events. Other times, employees bought alcohol on their own.

The contractor alleges that they “found no evidence of anyone being intoxicated.”

Steve Pierce, a spokesman with the state Department of Transportation, says that his agency’s Human Resources division is conducting its own investigation, which should be complete in the next week or two. The agency is talking to about 130 people.

“Kiewit continues to demonstrate they’re taking the problem seriously and assure us the problem is resolved,” Pierce said on Thursday.

Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said last month the agency was revising its policy to ensure that future contractors clearly know that drinking on the job is prohibited.

The state Department of Labor & Industries is also investigating the reports of drinking on the job.

Kiewit-General-Manson is putting the bridge together and oversees transportation of the pontoons from Aberdeen to Lake Washington. A similar combined effort known as Kiewit-General is in Aberdeen building the pontoons.

Pierce said there doesn’t appear to be a drinking issue at the Aberdeen location.

“We take full responsibility for our actions,” Kiewit said in its statement. “We are taking immediate and appropriate steps to make it right. And we are committed to ensuring the public has faith in us as a leading contractor that delivers on its commitments and expectations at the workplace. We want to make sure the citizens of Washington know they can be confident in the quality and safety of this important project.”