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Region 6 News Release: 10-1055-DAL (462)
Aug. 5, 2010
Contact: Michael D'Aquino      Michael Wald
Email: D'Aquino.Michael@dol.gov    Wald.Michael@dol.gov
Phone: 404-562-2076     404-562-2078

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Matula & Matula Construction
following worker death in Lake Jackson, Texas

LAKE JACKSON, Texas - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Matula & Matula Construction Inc. of Lake Jackson for workplace safety and health violations following the death of an employee who was working inside a sanitary sewer manhole.

"This company exposed its workers to hazardous atmospheres while they were working in sanitary sewers," said Mark Briggs, OSHA's director for its Houston South Area Office in Texas. "It is critical that procedures for safe confined space entry are utilized each time a worker enters a confined space."

OSHA has issued citations alleging two willful, three serious and two repeat violations following an investigation that began Feb. 8, when a worker who was pumping grout into the sewer line on the Highway 332 Utility Relocation Project in Lake Jackson was overcome by hydrogen sulfide.

The willful violations are for failing to implement confined space entry procedures, including testing, ventilation and rescue, and to train employees on the hazards of working in a confined space. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Serious violations include failing to train employees about the danger of working with hazardous chemicals in the workplace, and to inspect, properly maintain and repair damaged ladders. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The repeat violations are for failing to make a reasonable estimate of employee exposure to hazardous chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide, and to properly erect a ladder for use in accessing the sanitary sewer manhole. OSHA issues repeat violations when an employer previously has been cited for the same or substantially similar violations in the past three years, and those citations have become a final order.

Proposed penalties total $136,000. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Houston, 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 Area Office at 281-286-0583 or its Houston North Area Office at 281-591-2438. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline number at 800-321-6742.

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 assure 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.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


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