May 2, 2002
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE: (617) 565-2074
Fatal Explosion and Fire Lead To Over $71,000 In
Proposed Fines For Worcester Company
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The death of a welder in a Worcester, Mass., explosion and fire has led to $71,250 in proposed fines against his employer for failing to protect workers against the hazards of flammable vapors during cutting and welding operations.
TS Truck Service, Inc., a commercial fuel delivery firm located at 22 Eskow Road, has been cited by the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following the Dec. 17 fatality. On that day, an employee who was welding atop a delivery truck's fuel tank died after flammable vapors inside the tank ignited, causing an explosion and fire that engulfed him.
OSHA's inspection found that the company allowed the welding to proceed without first ensuring that the tank and its piping had been cleaned thoroughly enough to eliminate any flammable materials or substances which could produce flammable vapors, according to Ronald E. Morin, OSHA area director for central Massachusetts.
"This is a critical safety precaution that was not followed even though it was required and the employer was well aware of it," said Morin. "As a result, we are citing this item as willful, the most severe category of OSHA citation, and proposing a $49,000 fine."
An additional $22,250 in fines is proposed for seven alleged serious violations, including: failure to have an authorized person inspect the work area for fire hazards before welding; failing to properly cover or locate flammable and combustible materials at least 35 feet from welding operations; not having suitable fire extinguishing equipment present and immediately available for use during welding; failure to suitably train workers; electrical outlets, lighting and fans that were not approved for a hazardous location; no fall protection for an employee working atop a 10-foot, 6-inch high truck tank; and inadequate training for forklift operators.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A serious violation is one where there is a substantial probability that death or serious harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
TS Truck Service, Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Springfield, Mass., area office. The telephone number is 413-785-0123.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.