US Labor Department's OSHA cites Phoenix Industrial Cleaning after worker
dies while cleaning storage tank at Wheeling, Ill., chemical manufacturer
BERKELEY, Ill. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Phoenix Industrial Cleaning for 28 serious safety violations following the death of a worker who fell from ladder inside of a storage tank, apparently after being overcome by methylene chloride vapors at a chemical manufacturing facility in Wheeling on Nov. 29, 2012.
"No job should cost a person's life because of an employer's failure to properly protect and train workers," said Diane Turek, OSHA's area director for the Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines. "Phoenix Industrial Cleaning failed in its responsibility to evaluate working conditions and provide proper respiratory and personal protective equipment to workers cleaning storage tanks containing hazardous chemicals."
Eighteen of the serious violations involve confined space entry requirements, such as failing to develop and implement a confined space entry program for workers cleaning chemical storage tanks; train workers on acceptable entry conditions; provide testing and monitoring equipment for atmospheric hazards; provide a means of communication between workers entering a confined space and the attendant; provide rescue emergency equipment and a retrieval system to facilitate a no-entry rescue; have proper entry-control permits; and determine the proficiency of rescue service available to perform emergency rescue for exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Five of the serious violations that involve OSHA's respiratory protection standards include failing to evaluate the respiratory hazards present and select appropriate respiratory protection based on such hazards, provide a written respiratory protection program and train workers on such a program and conduct medical evaluations for workers required to use respiratory protection and proper fit-testing respiratory protection.
Additional serious violations involve OSHA's methylene chloride standard, such as failing to provide workers with information and training on the hazards associated with methylene chloride, assess exposure and provide effective protective garments. 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.
A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and it is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Confined space hazards are addressed in specific standards. For more information see, http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/confinedspaces/index.html.
OSHA has proposed fines of $77,200.
The Berkeley, Ill.- based company performs industrial cleaning of cooking exhaust ventilation, tanks, silos and similar equipment at industrial and commercial work sites. OSHA has conducted four previous inspections, two of which resulted in citations for violating standards on confined spaces. The last OSHA inspection was in 2001.
Phoenix Industrial Cleaning has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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 Chicago North Office at 847-803-4800.
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.