Confined Space Violations Results in Two Deaths

Hugo, OK – A series of confined space violations have resulted in two deaths, according to an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This occurred in Hugo, Oklahoma, on August 12th, 2020. As reported in an OSHA press release, one employee entered a natural gasoline rail car to clean the space. When the employee became unresponsive, a second attempted to rescue the first. This employee became unresponsive as well. Later, both workers were pronounced dead at a local hospital.Tank Rail Cars on a track with industrial buildings in the background on a clear day. This is an example image of the type of confined space the employees may have dealt with.

The rail company involved is Trinity Rail and Maintenance Service Inc. Trinity Rail is one of the largest rail car service providers in the United States. They are facing $419,347 in proposed penalties. OSHA has cited them for 11 serious violations and two willful violations due to the accident.

Among the confined space violations were, “…that the company failed to require a permit to allow entry into the rail car, ventilate the space, monitor hazards inside a confined space and complete entry permits for work inside a confined space…”

As OSHA points out in their press release, confined space work is dangerous. Following standards is the difference between making it home safe at the end of the day, or not. Martin Technical encourages all employers to train their employees in confined space safety. We also encourage training in any standards relevant to your industry. Safety training for your employees helps to avoid accidents such as these.

 

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Air Sampling and PPE Violations Lead to Hefty Fine

air samplingWichita, KS – Air Sampling and PPE violations found at Wichita’s largest employer have generated fines of close to $200,000 for Spirit Aerosystems. OSHA officials allege that the Kansas aircraft manufacturer exposed employees to carcinogenic hazards, failed to conduct periodic air monitoring, and failed to ensure employees were wearing effective equipment that would have protected them from dangerous exposure.

Spirit Aerosystems Inc faces penalties of $193,218 for six violations: two repeated and four serious, including allegations that Spirit failed to monitor levels of the carcinogenic substance after a prior documented violation. OSHA claims that painters at the manufacturing facility were exposed to up to 44 times the permissible exposure level of airborne chromium concentration.

Federal workplace safety inspectors documented failures to implement “feasible engineering controls” which would limit Spirit Aerosystem workers’ exposure to carcinogenic hexavalent chromium during aircraft painting and sanding. Additionally, OSHA found a lack of periodic monitoring or air sampling to detect exposure and respiratory hazards.

Spirit Aerosystems is also alleged to have failed to establish protocols to ensure that employees removed contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing before exiting affected work areas and that they failed to ensure that worker’s respirators fit properly. OSHA claims that some workers’ facial hair prevented their respirators from making a safe and effective seal.

By failing to prevent exposure to hexavalent chromium during aircraft painting and sanding, OSHA determined that Spirit Aerosystems allowed the accumulation of this carcinogen on surfaces throughout the facility. According to OSHA’s Wichita-Area Acting Office Director, “Inhaling excessive levels of hexavalent chromium can cause asthma, and damage to the kidneys, liver, and respiratory system…It is important for employers to take the appropriate steps necessary to prevent excessive exposure.”

According to OSHA, hexavalent chromium compounds are used as pigments or anti-corrosive agent in paints and other products. Also, they can be used to electroplate chromium onto metal parts. Employees can be exposed to this carcinogen during hot work activities like welding stainless steel or other alloy steels that contain chromium.

In response to these allegations, Spirit made a statement that the company “disputes the accuracy of some of OSHA’s findings,” and will meet with OSHA to discuss the citations and possibility of reduction in the associated penalties.

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