Puget Sound, WA – An investigation by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries has cited and fined two Puget Sound-area companies for 19 safety and health violations each, finding that temporary workers were entering fuel tanks with no controls in place to ensure their health and safety.
Inspections began last October after the state Department of Ecology notified L&I that workers were entering the fuel tanks to clean and service them but that no safety procedures were being used when working in the tanks.
These fuel tanks are 20′ long, 8′ wide, and 8′ tall, with a 20-inch entry hatch on top. In order to clean inside the tanks, workers climbed through the hatch and down a 6-foot stepladder. Entering fuel tanks exposes workers to confined space hazards that can include suffocation, toxic atmospheres, engulfment, entrapment or other dangerous conditions. Additionally, confined space hazards endanger rescue personnel.
The companies fined are Smarttalent LLC., of Kirkland, and Innovative Repairs, of Fife, WA. Smarttalent is a temporary staffing agency that provides workers to Innovative Repairs, which in turn services fuel tanks and containers for mining operations in Alaska. Smarttalent was fined $120,400, and Innovative Repairs has been fined $46,200.