US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Texas Barge & Boat in
Freeport, Texas, following deaths of 2 workers
FREEPORT, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Texas Barge & Boat Inc. for one willful and 39 serious violations following the deaths of two workers from a fire at the company's facility in Freeport, where boats and barges are repaired.
"It is critical that air monitoring is conducted when employees perform cutting operations in confined and enclosed spaces," said Mark Briggs, director of OSHA's Houston South Area Office. "This accident possibly could have been avoided if the company had followed OSHA's standards."
OSHA initiated a safety and health inspection on April 2 following a report from the local sheriff's department that an explosion had occurred and two workers were missing at the company's facility on East Floodgate Road. Nine employees were performing cutting and fire watch operations inside the hopper space, an area between the cargo hold and the bottom plate of the vessel, with limited means of entry and exit when the flash fire occurred.
The willful violation was cited for failing to conduct air monitoring tests prior to employees entering the confined and enclosed spaces to perform oxygen and fuel gas cutting operations. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
The serious violations involve failing to provide fall protection around the perimeter of the barge and around manholes, ensure compressed gas cylinders were secured, ensure proper electrical wiring was installed, ensure circuit breakers were labeled, provide respirator fit-testing, inspect oxygen and acetylene hoses, and develop a fire safety plan. 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 $221,200. The citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TexasBarge-Boat-312928195-0929-11.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TexasBarge-Boat-312927445-0929-11.pdf*
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston South area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Employers and employees with questions about workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Houston South office at 281-286-0583 or its Houston North office at 281-591-2438. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.