A worker who was cleaning inside a confined space (a rail car) collapsed and later died. OSHA says his employer didn’t have equipment or trained personnel to properly rescue the employee.
The 27-year-old employee of Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. (ER&R) of Mounds, IL, died while cleaning oil residue inside a rail car.
An investigation determined the employee entered a 30,000-gallon rail car on May 20 and suffered an irregular heartbeat. He wasn’t able to get out of the rail car on his own. Rescue equipment or personnel weren’t available.
OSHA issued 7 willful and 14 serious safety violations to the company and placed it in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
The seven willful violations include failure to:
- monitor permit-required confined spaces
- keep employees from entering when atmospheric conditions were unacceptable
- provide personal protective equipment, including self-contained breathing apparatus respirators
- remove defective respirators from use
- designate trained rescue employees, and
- use a retrieval system attached to the worker to help in a rescue.
The 14 serious violations include failure to:
- comply with respiratory protection requirements
- maintain rescue equipment
- ensure ventilation equipment was used properly, and
- provide fall protection for workers at the top of the rail car, which exposed them to falls of 15 feet or more.
ER&R has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
“The employer must ensure that safety equipment, such as retrieval lines and proper respiratory protection, is provided to employees and used each time someone enters a confined space,” said Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional administrator in Chicago.
OSHA says confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, duct work, pipelines, etc. One thing that many of them have in common: They’re not originally designed for people to occupy them, even on a temporary basis for purposes such as cleaning and maintenance.