July 7, 2020
U.S. Department of Labor Cites Texas Company for Confined Space Hazards
After Investigation into Two Employee Fatalities
HOUSTON, TX – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Alpha Technical Services (ATS) – doing business as Quala Rail and Specialty in Pasadena, Texas – for exposing employees to confined space hazards after two employees were fatally overcome by fumes while cleaning a tank trailer. The company faces $497,920 in penalties.
OSHA investigators determined that one employee became unresponsive after entering the trailer’s confined space. After a non-entry retrieval system used to rescue the worker failed, several employees entered the tank in an attempted rescue when a second employee became unresponsive. OSHA cited ATS for a willful and two repeat violations for confined space hazards, including failing to conduct appropriate tests to ensure atmospheric conditions were safe for entry.
"This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had complied with the law and tested and monitored the oxygen level within the tank before permitting workers to enter," said OSHA Houston South Area Director Mark Briggs.
"Employers must recognize the dangers of assigning work in confined spaces, and properly identify, test, control, and ventilate the atmosphere to ensure the safety of workers," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt.
OSHA’s Confined Spaces webpage offers extensive resources to help employers and employees understand how to recognize and evaluate hazards and possible solutions related to confined spaces.
ATS has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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 help 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.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
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Release Number: 20-1290-DAL
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