Seven-figure OSHA fines are becoming more common, especially in cases when the agency believes the company acted with willful disregard to safety.
VT Halter Marine, a shipbuilder, faces $1.32 million in fines in connection with a November 2009 explosion and fire in Escatawpa, MS, that killed two workers and seriously injured two others. The two injured workers both received third-degree burns.
OSHA cited the company for 17 willful violations, including failure to:
- inspect and test a confined space before entry
- prevent entry into confined spaces where the concentration of flammable vapors exceed the prescribed limits, and
- use explosion-proof lighting in a hazardous location.
VT Halter also faces 11 serious violations, including lack of machine guarding and use of defective electrical equipment.
The company has 15 days to decide whether to contest the fines.
The explosion happened aboard a tugboat as a crew was cleaning and prepping a tank for painting.