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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.
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Region 1 BOS 2003-129
June 25, 2003
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074


OSHA Fines Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant
Contractor For Alleged Safety Violations
Two Workers Burned In January Explosion

BOSTON, Mass. -- An explosion at the Deer Island sewage treatment plant that injured two contractor employees might have been prevented if safety standards were followed for working in confined spaces that contain flammable gas, according to citations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA's area office in Braintree, which investigated the Jan. 14 the accident, has fined Advanced Pipe Inspection, Inc. of Boston $45,500 for 13 alleged serious violations of standards. The company had been hired by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to clean clogged overflow pipes in the plant's sewage digesters.

"OSHA standards are designed to protect workers from the hazards of working in confined spaces, " said OSHA Area Director Brenda Gordon. "These standards must be strictly followed to avoid accidents."

OSHA's citations chiefly address deficiencies in the safeguards taken for working in overflow boxes that provide access to the pipes. The overflow boxes contained unsafe levels of flammable gas.

According to OSHA's citations, Advanced Pipe Inspection failed to identify and evaluate confined space and other hazards in the work area, did not develop and implement procedures for eliminating or controlling flammable gases, and did not adequately inform or train employees about these hazards.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses, and protecting America's workers. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

A summary of the citations is attached.

# # #


OSHA Citations & Proposed Penalties Advanced Pipe Inspection Inc. of Boston, Mass. Worksite: MWRA Deer Island sewage digesters - Winthrop, Mass.

Thirteen alleged serious violations, with $45,500 in proposed fines, for:
  • Failure to implement a written confined space entry program where employees entered the overflow box, a confined space with flammable and hazardous gases

  • Failure to identify and evaluate confined space hazards, including accumulation of flammable gases (such as methane); oxygen displacement; work in Class 1 Division 1 space (one subject to accumulation of flammable gases); accumulation of pigeon droppings that may contain fungi causing histoplasmosois; and fall hazards

  • Failure to develop and implement procedures to eliminate or control flammable gas accumulation, ensure continuous air monitoring during entry and test the atmosphere before entry

  • Failure to supply ventilation equipment, adequate lighting and adequate rescue equipment during entry

  • Failure to designate the duties of each crew member, provide them adequate confined space entry training and certify training

  • Employer's written confined space entry program did not include rescue procedures and employees entering space did not wear appropriate rescue equipment

  • Employer's written confined space entry program did not include a permit entry system, nor were entry permits prepared for employees who entered the space

  • Authorized entrants, attendants and entry supervisor were not informed of confined space hazards, including flammable and hazardous atmosphere and the confined space's rating as a Class 1 Division 1 location

  • Failure to inform emergency responders of confined space hazards and provide responders with access to work area to develop and practice rescue plans

  • Failure to ensure all authorized entrants wore safety harnesses and were connected to retrieval lines during confined space entry

  • Failure to provide adequate energy control training to employees who entered the space

  • Failure to develop adequate energy control procedures to address releases of hazardous energy from the sewage digester system

  • Equipment was used that was not intrinsically safe for a Class 1 Division 1 location.

OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition about which the employer knew or should have known.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device dor the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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