US Labor Department's OSHA cites 3 companies following
the deaths of 2 workers at a Hockley, Texas, work site
HOCKLEY, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Watco Mechanical Services, Jordan General Contractors Inc. and JP Electric after a combustible dust flash fire claimed the lives of two workers at a Hockley work site. Proposed penalties for the three companies total $119,840.
OSHA began its investigation on Aug. 19, 2012, at the Watco Mechanical Services work site on Premium Drive where workers were conducting blasting operations in the facility's tank and hopper building. Employees were cutting metal with a torch when a fire broke out, killing two workers employed by Magnolia, Texas-based Jordan General Contractors.
Jordan General Contractors was cited with seven serious violations for failing to develop and implement a respiratory program; provide training on the hazards of working with combustible dust; ensure cutting operations are halted in the presence of combustible dust; ensure the use of a body belt when working in an aerial lift; and ensure aerial lift loads do not exceed required limits. 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. Proposed penalties total $20,240.
OSHA cited Pittsburg, Kan.-based Watco Mechanical Services with 14 serious violations, including failing to adequately control fugitive emissions of combustible dust; keep work areas clean of combustible dust; provide warning signs to alert employees of combustible dust hazards; and keep emergency cylinder respirators fully charged. Additionally, confined space violations were found, including failing to identify and evaluate confined space hazards and develop and implement confined space procedures. OSHA also cited the company with two other-than-serious violations for failing to certify the use of emergency respirators and document filter changes. Proposed penalties total $91,300.
Conroe, Texas-based JP Electric, which assisted in demolition activities, was cited with one serious safety violation for failing to prohibit cutting operations in the presence of combustible dust. Proposed penalties total $2,800.
"This incident underscores the seriousness of exposing workers to the inadequate control of combustible dust," said David Doucet, OSHA's area director at its Houston North office. "Following OSHA standards helps to save lives and avoid such needless tragedy."
Citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/WATCOMechanicalServices_587438_021513.pdf*
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston North office or contest the citations and proposed 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), the agency's Houston North office at 281-591-2438 or its Houston South office at 281-286-0583.
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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 292-693-7828 or TTY 292-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.