Plains Trucking in Ross, ND, cited after worker dies while cleaning tanker;
US Labor Department's OSHA finds 9 violations during investigation
Company also placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program
ROSS, N.D. – Plains Trucking LLC has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for nine safety violations after a worker was fatally injured March 27 while cleaning the inside of a crude oil tanker that exploded at the company's facility in Ross. The incident occurred when another worker lowered a treble light, not approved for use in such conditions, into the tanker. The second worker suffered a concussion and a head laceration.
"The company failed in its responsibility to train workers and evaluate the working conditions of confined spaces, which carry unique hazards, before allowing workers to enter," said Eric Brooks, OSHA's area director in Bismarck. "No job should cost a person's life because of an employer's failure to properly protect and train workers."
One willful safety violation involves failing to develop and implement a confined space entry program. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Eight serious safety violations were cited for failing to evaluate the need for personal protective equipment; lack of machine guarding on pulleys and belts; failing to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program; use of electrical lighting not approved for a hazardous location; and failing to compile a list of chemicals, such as crude oil, which was in use, and provide workers training on those chemical hazards and precautions. 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.
OSHA has placed Plains Trucking in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA's SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
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, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/confinedspaces/index.html.
Proposed fines total $28,000. 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.
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 Bismarck Area Office at 701-250-4521.
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 242-693-7828 or TTY 242-693-7755.