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OSHA News Release – Region 7
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 7 News Release: KC-OSHA-03
Thur., Feb. 21, 2002
Contact: Norma Conrad
Triple Fatality Leads to OSHA Citations for Emerson Construction, Inc.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The failure of a Topeka, Kan. underground utility contractor to protect employees from the serious hazards of working in confined spaces led to a triple fatality last August, and has resulted in federal citations for alleged willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration began its investigation of Emerson Construction, Inc., following the accident, which involved employees who were performing a vacuum check on a new sanitary sewer-manhole. The agency has proposed penalties totaling $85,500, according to OSHA Regional Administrator Charles E. Adkins.
The alleged willful violations are for confined space entry hazards including failure to perform atmospheric testing and monitoring of the confined space before entering; not utilizing rescue equipment, such as a safety harness and lifeline, during confined space entry; not providing continuous mechanical ventilation in the confined space; not utilizing a confined space entry permit system during confined space entry; and for failure to train employees on the hazards associated with confined space entry.
The alleged serious violation involved a portable ladder used to access the manhole that did not extend beyond the surface of the hole 3 feet.
OSHA defines willful violations as those which are committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition, and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Emerson Construction, Inc. has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply with them, hold an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, said Adkins.
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