OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Joint Regional Release - Regions 2 & 3
Tues., Feb. 2, 2000
Chester J. Fultz
OSHA CITES NEWARK, NJ COMPANY AFTER TWO SEPARATE ACCIDENTS; MORE THAN 180,000 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
Investigations Conducted In Wind Gap, Pa. and South Orange, NJ
Following two separate accidents within a week--one resulting in a worker's death -- the U.S. Department of Labor' Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited Active Oil Services, Inc. in Newark, NJ for alleged safety and health violations and proposed penalties totaling $183,900. The company is a contractor specializing in tank cleaning, tank removals and environmental work.
The first incident prompting an OSHA inspection occurred on August 3, 1999, when Active Oil was engaged in a clean-out operation of an underground storage tank containing a flammable liquid at Tirenergy Corporation in Wind Gap, Pa. The contents of the tank exploded, killing one employee and injuring two others.
According to George Tomchick, area director of the OSHA Allentown Office, the company was issued three willful violations, with a proposed penalty of $126,000 and four serious violations, with a penalty of $14,100.
The willful violations include the company's failure to obtain information on potential hazards at the site from the host employer; failure to adequately train personnel responsible for supervising confined space entry operations; and for burning and cutting on a vessel which contained a flammable liquid without thoroughly cleaning the vessel to ensure no fire/explosion hazard existed.
The serious violations relate to both OSHA's Permit Required Confined Space Standard and its Respiratory Protection Standard, including: failure to prevent unauthorized entry into a permit-required confined space; failure to identify and evaluate hazards prior to entry of confined space; failure to test conditions within the space prior to entry being authorized; failure to test or monitor the space to determine if acceptable conditions are being maintained; failure to prepare entry permit prior to allowing entry; failure to provide a medical evaluation to determine an employee's ability to use a respirator; failure to provide fit testing to employees required to use tight-fitting face piece respirators; and failure to provide training to respirator users.
OSHA also cited Tirenergy Corporation for two serious violations, proposing a $2,850 penalty. Tirenergy, a start-up company which recycles used tires, hired Active Oil to clean its 10,000-gallon underground storage tank. The serious violations relate to the company's failure as a host employer to inform contractors of the presence of permit-require confined spaces on the premises; failure to apprise contractors of the hazards related to the permit space in which the contractor would be working; and failure to develop and implement a hazard communication program, including provisions to share information with contractors who had employees working on site.
"Both of these companies took an unneccessary chance with the lives of the employees working on this project by not following OSHA guidelines. And as result, one life was lost" says Tomchick.
The second incident occurred on August 9, 1999 at the Temple Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, NJ. Two Active Oil employees were in the process of cleaning an in-ground oil tank and fell unconscious.
According to David I. Ippolito, area director of the Parsippany, NJ OSHA office, the company was issued one willful, two serious and one other-than serious citations.
The willful violation, carrying a proposed penalty of $42,000, was due to the employer's failure to ensure that safe confined space entry procedures were followed, including evaluating the confined space for a safe atmosphere and providing for emergency rescue of workers inside the tank. The serious violations include not providing medical evaluations for employers required to use respirators and not providing respirator fit tests for employees, carrying a proposed penalty of $1,800. The employer was also cited for one other-than-serious violation for failing to maintain respirator fit test records, which carries no penalty.
"This employer established safety procedures for entry into dangerous confined spaces, but chose not to follow it's own procedures," says Ippolito.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and OSHA regulations. A serious violation includes a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Both firms have 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either decide to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupations Safety and Heath Review Commission.
The Wind Gap, Pa. investigation was conducted by the Allentown Area Office, 850 North 5th Street, Allentown, Pa., 18102, (610) 776-0592.
The South Orange, NJ investigation was conducted by the Parsippany, NJ Area Office, 299 Cherry Hill Road, Suite 304, Parsippany, NJ 07054, (973) 263-1003
This information will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. Telecommunications Device for the Deaf. Telephone: (800) 927-9273.
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