Region 1 News Release: 11-1603-BOS/BOS 2011-389
Dec. 1, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA proposes $72,900 in fines for East Boston,
Mass., painting contractor for violations at North Kingstown, RI, shipyard
Inspection initiated after employee overcome by paint vapors inside confined space
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – An East Boston, Mass., painting contractor faces a total of $72,900 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration after one of its employees lost consciousness while working in a confined space. AMEX Inc. was cited for 13 alleged violations of workplace safety standards after the May 26 incident at the Senesco Marine LLC shipyard in North Kingstown.
The employee was overcome by paint vapors while spray painting inside a tugboat and was subsequently rescued by the North Kingstown Fire Department. The work area was a confined space and the inspection by OSHA's Providence Area Office found that Amex failed to institute and follow all required precautions for confined space work.
"This could very easily have been a fatality," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's Rhode Island area director. "Confined spaces are characterized by toxic, oxygen-deficient or flammable atmospheres that can be deadly for employees working in those spaces. No worker should ever enter a confined space until the atmosphere has been tested, proper respiratory protection is supplied and used, and adequate rescue procedures are in place."
Specifically, OSHA found that AMEX did not adequately check for hazardous conditions inside the confined space, did not test the atmosphere for toxic or flammable vapors before the worker entered and did not provide confined space training for employees entering the space. In addition, the contractor failed to supply the workers with the proper respiratory protection, appropriate respirator fit-testing and intrinsically safe ventilation equipment.
As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited 12 serious violations, carrying $72,000 in proposed fines. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. One other-than-serious violation, with a $900 fine, was cited for an incomplete illness and injury log. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
AMEX Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Detailed information on confined space hazards and proper work procedures is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/confinedspaces/index.html. Specific information relating to confined space work in shipyards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/shipyard/shiprepair/confinedspace/index_cs.html.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Providence office at 401-528-4667.
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 ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.