Department of Labor Logo OSHA News Release - Region 6

July 8, 2024

Four years after double fatality, Houston-area tank cleaning contractor cited for same hazards that claimed another employee's life

Qualawash Holdings ignored 2019 safety failures; cited for 8 repeat, 11 serious violations>

HOUSTON – A La Porte tank cleaning company again chose to disregard federal safety standards that may have protected their employees from hazardous working conditions and prevented another employee from suffering a fatal injury. In December 2023, just two days before Christmas, the wife and son of an employee at the company grew concerned when he didn't return after his shift. Later that day, he was found unresponsive.

A workplace safety investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the fallen worker's employer, Qualawash Holdings LLC – operating as Quala Services LLC – failed to ensure that atmospheric testing was done inside the tank before allowing the 53-year-old employee to enter it. The agency cited the company, whose employees clean tankers used to transport hazardous wastes, for eight repeat violations.

OSHA cited Quala Services for the same violations in June 2020 after two workers succumbed while cleaning inside a tanker truck in November 2019.

"Had Quala Services acted responsibly and made the safety reforms as required in 2020, another employee would not have lost their life," explained OSHA Area Director Larissa Ipsen in Houston. "This employer's complete disregard for its employees' safety is unacceptable. Complying with safety and health standards is not optional. OSHA will use all of its tools to ensure employers follow the law."

In addition to identifying the company's failure to conduct required testing, OSHA cited the Quala Services for seven serious violations including the following:

  • Failing to implement measures to prevent unauthorized entry into a permit-required confined space.
  • Not providing an attendant while employees entered permit-required confined spaces.
  • Numerous failures related to the confined space entry permit, including:
    • Not identifying the authorized duration of entry.
    • Which rescue and emergency services to be summoned.
    • How to summon emergency services.
    • Failing to specify personal protective, rescue and communications equipment and alarm systems.
  • Overexposing employees to carbon monoxide.
  • Not protecting conductors that entered an electrical panel box from abrasions and leaving an electrical outlet without a cover plate.

Qualawash Holdings LLC faces $810,703 in proposed penalties for its violations.

The La Porte-based company cleans tanker trailers used to transport hazardous waste and has more than 1,400 employees.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.

Learn about confined space entry.

Learn more about OSHA.

Media Contacts:

Juan J. Rodríguez, 972-850-4709,
Chauntra Rideaux, 972-850-4710,

Release Number: 24-1227-DAL