Nov. 24, 2008
Contact: Michael Wald
Inspection follows death of 3 employees at Port Everglades terminal in May
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Florida Transportation Services for one willful and four serious safety violations. In May, three employees died after entering a cargo hold filled with argon gas.
"The unfortunate and needless loss of three lives resulted from the company's failure to provide its employees with sufficient training and knowledge of hazardous chemicals," said Darlene Fossum, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale.
OSHA is citing the company with one willful violation carrying a $63,000 fine for not training employees on the proper methods and observations used to detect the presence or release of a gas, such as argon. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
The serious violations, each of which carries a $6,300 fine, address the company's failure to establish an alarm system to warn employees of an emergency after a chemical release has occurred and to develop adequate evacuation procedures. In addition, the company allowed employees to enter a hazardous atmosphere and allowed the loading of a portable tank of argon that had a damaged identification number and a faded shipping name.
The citations carry $88,200 in proposed penalties.
Florida Transportation Services has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Fort Lauderdale Area Office, 8040 Peters Road, Building H-100, telephone 954-424-0242.
OSHA has improved workplace safety and health over the past 38 years. This success is reflected in the latest data (2007) showing the lowest national injury and illness incidence rate that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has ever recorded. OSHA will continue to work diligently to focus its resources where they will have the most impact in assuring that every working man and woman returns home safely every day.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote 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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