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.
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.
North Platte, NE – OSHA issued fines this week to Western Engineering Company Inc for violations found following an employee death. In 2018, a Western Engineering employee suffered fatal injuries after being pulled into an unguarded slat/drag conveyor at the company’s Nebraska asphalt plant.
In a statement, OSHA’s Omaha Area Office Director said that “Employers are required to develop safety and health programs that address known hazards and ensure that safety procedures are followed to prevent tragedies such as this from recurring.”
The confined space violations included failure to develop a confined space entry program; failure to issue safety permits; failure to test atmospheric conditions; and failure to provide air testing and monitoring equipment.
28-year-old Andrew Martinez (of Weslaco, TX) was fatally injured at Western Engineering’s North Platte (NE) facility in November of 2018 when he was pulled into an unguarded slat/drag conveyor on the job. On the day of the event, emergency workers were called to the plant for body recovery. Upon arrival, they discovered the Martinez pinned in the machinery and deceased.
If you have any concerns about safety at your facility, please contact the Industrial Safety Experts at Martin Technical. Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer and more efficient. Our experts simplify the complex by offering real-world solutions for Lockout/Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Machine Safety, Safety Consulting Services, and Employee Training.
Omaha, NE – In a 22-count indictment, Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services and its co-owners have been charged with falsifying OSHA documents and other federal worker safety violations which prosecutors say resulted in the deaths of two men in an April 2015 Omaha confined space accident.
The president of Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services (NRCS), Stephen Michael Braithwaite, and co-owner Adam Thomas Braithwaite, are charged with submitting false documents to a federal agency and violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Adam Braithwaite also is charged with perjury, according to the federal indictments.
An explosion killed two NRCS workers and injured a third on April 14, 2015 as they were clearing a rail tanker. NRCS tested the rail cars following the explosion and found the contents to be hazardous. U.S. Attorney Joseph Kelly alleges the Braithwaites and NRCS failed to implement worker safety standards, and then tried to cover up those shortfalls following the explosion.
Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Wood stated that “protecting the health and safety of American workers at hazardous job sites is of paramount importance…The defendants in this case failed to live up to that responsibility, even falsifying documents to evade worker safety requirements. Tragically, employees at the defendants’ facility lost their lives while working in these unsafe conditions.”
Dallas Foulk and Adrian LaPour died in the 2015 confined space accident.
Aurora LaPoure, Adrian LaPoure’s mother, said her family feels a bit of relief, after hoping for justice all this time: “They violated a lot of codes, they did a lot of wrong and they killed two people,” she said. “I feel a lot of anger because this could have been prevented. Had the company done right and followed safety rules this could have been prevented. [Adrian] would still be here.”
Robert LaPoure, Adrian’s brother, hopes to see Stephen and Adam Braithwaite convicted: “I’m glad that something is finally being done. They’re going to be held accountable and hopefully justice will prevail,” he said.
OSHA regulations require air in confined spaces, like inside rail tankers, be tested for various gases including flammable and explosive fumes. According to the indictment, Stephen Braithwaite turned away federal safety inspectors in March 2015 and created documents to falsely show that NRCS had been purchasing equipment to test rail cars for the presence of benzene. The company was required to do this before sending rail cars to a landfill, but the indictment alleges that NRCS failed to do so.
Alhambra, CA – A foundry worker lost both legs last August after a coworker re-energized the machine he was working in. Alhambra Foundry has been fined $283,390 for federal workplace safety and health violations including lack of permit-required confined space program, inadequate machine-specific lockout procedures, missing accident prevention signage, and not having a confined space attendant monitoring his entry, the employee to have suffered the loss of both his lower limbs could look into hiring a workers compensation attorney to see if he is entitled to a compensation payout.
According to federal safety regulators, two Alhambra Foundry employees were cleaning and unblocking a 38-feet-long auger screw conveyor at the bottom hopper of an industrial air filtration device without effectively locking out the equipment. After the cleaning was done, one of the workers re-entered the 20-inch square opening to retrieve a work light from inside the confined space. Unfortunately, at that same time a maintenance worker 45 feet away energized the equipment to perform a test. The moving auger screw pulled the worker into the screw conveyor and both of his legs had to be amputated in order to get him free of the machine.
The Cal/OSHA Chief stated that “sending a worker into a confined space is dangerous, especially inside machinery that can be powered on at any time…Employers must ensure that machinery and equipment are de-energized and locked out before workers enter the space to perform operations involving cleaning and servicing.”
In their investigation, Cal/OSHA found that the screw conveyor was not de-energized and locked out before workers entered the hopper, and accident prevention signs were not placed on the controls. On construction sites, construction project management software is often implemented so as to keep workers informed of ongoing dangers and avoid potential incidents. Alhambra Foundry lacked specific procedures for de-energizing and locking out the equipment and additionally, the worker re-entering the hopper was not monitored by a confined space attendant.
Unfortunately, Alhambra Foundry was cited for similar violations eight years ago and therefore were issued a willful serious accident-related violation for failing to take appropriate measures to protect workers performing cleaning and servicing operations.
Downingtown, PA – OSHA has fined US Environmental Inc more than $333,000 for willful violations of basic worker protections. Employees were found to be exposed to confined space and fall hazards. Federal workplace safety violations included one “other than serious” violations, four “willful” violations, and seven “serious violations.”
OSHA first investigated US Environmental Inc in the spring of 2017 and found that the company’s Downingtown (PA) facility did not follow basic safety protocol on several counts, including failure to implement rescue procedures for employees in confined spaces; provide protective equipment (PPE) when working in confined spaces; and provide employees with fall protection training and equipment.
Willful violations are noted as those in which OSHA determines that the employer either knowingly failed to comply, purposefully disregarded, or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.
While confined spaces are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces may include tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ducts and pipelines, among others.
US Environmental Inc is an industrial energy services corporation serving multiple secotrs including petroleum, natural gas, petro-chemical, power, chemical, manufacturing and engineering. As stated by the OSHA Area Office Director, “It is fortunate that workers did not suffer serious injuries or worse” at this location.
Monaca, PA – Workers were killed and injured by toxic fumes while working in a confined space at the Bruce Mansfield Power Station in Beaver County (PA) last week. Two contractors died after inhaling toxic fumes in an underground pit, and three workers above the pit were overcome by toxic gas and hospitalized. If toxic fumes become present in your workplace then you should find a solution to stop workers being killed or injured.
The contractors worked for Enerfab Corp. and were in a ‘confined, well-type’ area. The two workers in the pit, removed an elbow joint in a pipe which released hydrogen sulfide gas into the air in the confined space. 34-year-old Kevin Bachner and 42-year-old John Gorchock, both of Pittsburgh (PA), died.
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is therefore very dangerous in an emergency. Confined spaces require special signage, safety protocols, and equipment.
The Mansfield Power Station, located about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, is FirstEnergy’s largest coal-fired plant and remains operational. 350 people are employed there.
Decatur, IN – One employee died and another has been hospitalized in a confined space accident at the Manley Meats facility in Decatur (IN) this week.
Emergency crews were called to Manley Meats for a report of two unresponsive people on Wednesday afternoon. A statement from the Adams County Coroner says that work was being done on a sewer pit when one or both people became unresponsive. One worker died and another was airlifted to a local hospital.
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered to be “confined spaces” because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs.
A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. They include, but are not limited to: tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, and pipelines.
Martin Technical confined space services are designed to keep workers safe, and help companies meet OSHA regulations. Our experts can evaluate your work site to determine which spaces require permits, develop a written program and specific procedures for entering each confined space.
Manley Meats offers catering, butchering, canning, and retail operations at its Decatur location.
Los Angeles, CA – Cal/OSHA has issued fines of $352,570 for ten serious and willful health and safety violations following an investigation into a confined space death. Cal/OSHA reports that neither Tyler Development or D&D Construction Specialties Inc. were in compliance with required confined space procedures.
An employee of D&D Construction entered a drainage shaft in October 2016 to clean out mud and debris. No personal fall protection was utilized as the worker descended via bucket 10 ft. into the shaft. Reports state that the shaft was 4.5 ft. in diameter and lined with concrete. The worker lost consciousness due to the oxygen deficient atmosphere in the confined space, fell 40 ft., and then drowned in one foot of water.
According to Cal/OSHA, Tyler Development was the general contractor constructing a single-family residence in the Bel Air area. They had subcontracted D&D Construction to install and service reinforced concrete posts known as caissons1 on the property.
These violations have been classified as willful because D&D Construction was cited in 2012 for similar safety violations at a different job site. In total, D&D has to pay a proposed $337,700 for 13 violations, including two willful serious accident-related, one willful serious, one serious accident-related, six serious, and three general in nature.
According to Cal/OSHA, the D&D Construction failed to ensure safe entry into the confined space; failed to have an effective method for rescuing the worker in the confined space in an emergency; and failed to test the environment to determine if additional protective equipment, such as a respirator or oxygen tank, were required to work safely in the shaft.
For their part, Tyler Development was cited $14,870 for five violations, three of them serious, for a failure to evaluate the worksite for possible permit-required confined spaces and failure to ensure that the subcontractor meets all requirements to comply with a permit space program.
Key Largo, FL – Three workers assigned to fix a roadway in the Florida Keys lost their lives this week after entering a confined space filled with hydrogen sulfide and methane gas created from years of rotted vegetation. The men descended a hole just wide enough to fit a body and about 15 feet deep that was so poisonous that a firefighter attempting rescue was knocked unconscious within seconds.
The Sheriff’s office reported that the workers went to investigate complaints from residents about what they thought was a sewage back up. The workers found a slight dip in the ground near the manhole cover at the end of the street.The first worker removed a manhole cover, went underground, and was uncommunicative. The second worker climbed down in search of his coworker and he, too, lost consciousness. The third man desperately climbed into the same hole to assist and was immediately overcome by fumes.
The deceased are Elway Gray, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, Louis O’Keefe, 49, of Little Torch Key and Robert Wilson, 24, of Summerland Key. All three worked for a private Michigan-based roadwork contractor named Douglas N. Higgins.
The firefighter who attempted rescue was revived with CPR and is believed to be in a coma after the accident. The local sheriff’s office reports that the firefighter decided to enter the hole without his air pack because the hole was not wide enough to fit the man and his equipment.
Federal OSHA inspectors will investigate the deadly incident. The neighborhood was ordered evacuated until determined safe.
Springfield, IL – OSHAs new construction confined space standard is being brought to bear against 4 Illinois companies following the death in October 2015 of a worker renovating the Springfield Metro Sanitary District’s Sugar Creek Plant. The new OSHA standard went into effect Aug 15, 2015 and the recent citations against Henderson; Williams Brothers Inc; Tobin Bros.; and Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc. are among the first to have been issued to violators of the new construction confined space rules.
In October 2015, a 42-year-old worker suffered fatal blunt force injuries when an inflatable bladder ruptured at Springfield Metro Sanitary District’s Sugar Creek Plant wastewater treatment facility. OSHA inspectors have found the employer, Henderson Construction of Central Illinois Inc., failed to train the employee properly.
While the majority of the violations cited centered on a failure to train workers on how to safely operate equipment, Henderson Construction was also cited for failing to manage how and when workers entered the large round pipe as well as confined space-related violations. 3 other companies involved were also cited for multiple safety violations by OSHA: Williams Brothers Inc who were the controlling contractor on the site; subcontractor Tobin Bros; and another subcontractor, Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc. These 4 companies were working on a $54.4 million renovation of the Springfield Metro Sanitary District’s Sugar Creek Plant.
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered confined spaces because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. They include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, boilers, and pipelines.
Martin Technical confined space services are designed to keep workers safe, and help companies meet OSHA regulations. Contact an expert on our Safety & Compliance Team to evaluate your work site to determine which spaces require permits, develop a written program and specific procedures for entering each confined space.