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Region 6 News Release: OSHA-03-129
Thurs., July 3, 2003
Contact: Diana Petterson or Elizabeth Todd
Phone: (214)767-4776, Ext. 222 or 221
R.B.T. Welders Fined $106,200
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited R.B.T. Welders for failing to protect workers against welding hazards while working in a confined space. The company, based in Raceland, La., has been fined $106,200 for allegedly violating safety standards in connection with a fatal accident at a Texas facility in January.
OSHA cited R.B.T. Welders for 20 alleged serious violations following an inspection that began Jan. 6 in Texas when two welders, one employed by R.B.T. Welders and the other by Kiewit Offshore Services, Ltd., were killed. The welders were working at the Kiewit facility in Ingleside, Texas, near Corpus Christi, where Kiewit was the general contractor. The welders were killed when accumulated fuel gas ignited in a confined space where the men were fabricating steel highway bridge footings for barge transport to a new San Francisco Bay bridge.
"It is a tragedy when workers are killed or injured because employers did not follow the rules set out to protect them," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "OSHA is willing to work with employers to help them comply with safety standards, but we will fully enforce these standards when appropriate."
Most of the alleged serious violations dealt with the hazards of working in a confined space. Others included failing to train employees on hazardous materials, failing to evaluate respiratory hazards, failing to determine the ability of rescuers to provide timely emergency service, failing to disconnect welding machines from their power source when not in use, and failing to use approved electrical equipment in a hazardous location.
A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
OSHA's "permit required confined space" standard must be followed when work is performed within a confined space, such as a bridge compartment footing. It requires testing the air in the confined space, coordination of entry with multiple employers, permit use, rescue provisions and training of workers on the potential hazards prior to assigned duties.
The company, a structural steel fabricator, employed about 120 workers at the Kiewit Ingleside, Texas, facility. R.B.T. Welders employs about 327 workers. The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Corpus Christi area office, or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call the Corpus OSHA area office at (361) 888-3420. OSHA's toll-free hotline number may be used to report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers at 1-800-321-6742.
OSHA is dedicated to assuring workers safety and health. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov.
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