May 14, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
BRAINTREE, Mass. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Carlos Seafood Inc., a New Bedford, Mass., seafood processor, for allegedly failing to protect its employees against carbon monoxide and confined space hazards.
The enforcement action follows an OSHA inspection prompted by the November 2006 death of an employee who was fatally overcome by carbon monoxide fumes while using a gasoline-powered pressure washer to clean the inside of a water tank in a fishing boat docked at Leonard's Wharf in New Bedford.
OSHA found that the deceased and two other employees were exposed to excess levels of carbon monoxide while working in the tank and that the company failed to implement controls to reduce those exposure levels.
The company also lacked procedures and equipment for employees to work safely in confined spaces, did not train employees on working in confined spaces, and did not identify and post danger signs for the tank and other confined spaces in the workplace. There also was no program in place covering employees' proper training and use of respirators.
"Working in confined spaces is extremely hazardous, which makes it imperative that all required safeguards be effectively in place and in use before employees enter one of these potentially deadly work areas," said Robert Hooper, OSHA's acting area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "These requirements are thorough and stringent because their purpose is to prevent accidents like this one from happening in the first place."
As a result of its inspection, OSHA issued Carlos Seafood Inc.11 serious citations carrying $46,900 in proposed penalties. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's area office in Braintree, telephone (617) 565-6924.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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