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Region 1 News Release:   BOS 2000-129
Monday, September 18, 2000
Contact: John M. Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2075

OSHA CITES THREE EMPLOYERS FOR SAFETY VIOLATIONS FOLLOWING INVESTIGATION OF ACCIDENT AT A BOW, NEW HAMPSHIRE, POWER PLANT THAT SERIOUSLY INJURED FOUR WORKERS; PROPOSES COMBINED PENALTIES TOTALING OVER $67,000

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited three employers for alleged safety and health violations following the agency's investigation of an accident which occurred on April 8, 2000 at the Bow Power Plant in Bow, New Hampshire, which resulted in serious burn injuries to four workers. OSHA is proposing combined penalties totaling $67,250 for Public Service Company of New Hampshire; O'Connor Constructors of Canton, Massachusetts; and North American Industrial Services, Inc., of Westbrook, Maine.

According to David C. May, OSHA's Area Director for New Hampshire, OSHA began its investigation in response to the accident which occurred as four employees of the contractors for Public Service Company of New Hampshire (two each employed by O'Connor and North American) were involved in cleaning out duct work in one of the power generating units at the Bow Power Plant. All four were burned when they came into contact with hot fly ash which had built up in the transport duct of the power generator (Unit 1).

"This was a very serious accident," said May, "which resulted in serious injuries to four workers and could have resulted in their deaths. It simply shouldn't have happened and didn't have to happen if these three employers had just utilized the required precautions for this entry into a hazardous confined space."

Each of the employers is being cited for similar or related violations, although the pecifics and details vary as noted below.

  • Public Service Company of New Hampshire is being cited for seven alleged SERIOUS violations of OSHA's safety standards, including proposed penalties totaling $29,250 for:
    - failing to protect employees entering the transport duct from accidental contact with hot fly ash with protective equipment or some other equivalent means;
    - reclassifying a "permit-required confined space" as a non-permit confined space when all hazards within the space had not been eliminated, and failing to properly train employees to safely perform such a reclassification;
    - the pre-job briefings of employees and contractors did not adequately cover all related hazards, safe work procedures and personal protective equipment required to clean up and work adjacent to hot fly ash;
    - failing to establish a program to render inoperative the potential release of stored energy associated with the buildup of hot fly ash in the duct work, failing to provide a hazardous energy lockout to protect employees, failing to develop and implement hazardous energy control procedures to protect employees entering the unit to work, failing to have the specific procedures developed for the hazardous energy control program meet the standard's minimum requirements, and failure of group lockout procedures for entry into the unit to provide a level of protection equivalent to the implementation of a personal lockout or tagout device;
    - failing to train employees in the recognition of hazards associated with the buildup of hot fly ash in transport ducts and the methods and means necessary for energy isolation and control of the hot fly ash buildup; and,
    - after the employer's tagout isolation of Unit 1 was completed, employees entered the unit without having the hazardous potential energy associated with the buildup of hot fly ash rendered safe, and prior to entering Unit 1, the authorized employees did not verify that the potentially hazardous energy due to the buildup of hot fly ash in the transport duct was isolated and de-energized.

  • O'Connor Constructors is being cited for six alleged SERIOUS safety violations, carrying proposed penalties totaling $25,500 for:
    - failing to protect employees entering the transport duct from accidental contact with hot fly ash with protective equipment or some other equivalent means;
    - reclassifying a "permit-required confined space" as a non-permit confined space when all hazards within the space had not been eliminated, and failing to properly train employees to safely perform such a reclassification;
    - the pre-job briefings of employees did not adequately cover all related hazards, safe work procedures and personal protective equipment required to clean up and work adjacent to hot fly ash;
    - failing to establish a program to render inoperative the potential release of stored energy associated with the buildup of hot fly ash in the duct work, failing to provide a hazardous energy lockout to protect employees, failing to develop and implement hazardous energy control procedures to protect employees entering the unit to work, failing to ment hazardous energy control procedures to protect employees entering the unit to work, failing to have the specific procedures developed for the hazardous energy control program meet the standard's minimum requirements, and failure of group lockout procedures for entry into the unit to provide a level of protection equivalent to the implementation of a personal lockout or tagout device;
    - failing to train employees in the recognition of hazards associated with the buildup of hot fly ash in transport ducts and the methods and means necessary for energy isolation and control of the hot fly ash buildup; and,
    - after the employer's tagout isolation of Unit 1 was completed, employees entered the unit without having the hazardous potential energy associated with the buildup of hot fly ash rendered safe, and prior to entering Unit 1, the authorized employees did not verify that the potentially hazardous energy due to the buildup of hot fly ash in the transport duct was isolated and de-energized.

  • North American Industrial Services, Inc., has also been cited for three "other-than-serous" violations, with no proposed penalties, for:
    - failure to establish and implement a written respiratory protection program when employees were required to wear a respirator;
    - failure to provide medical evaluation to employees before requiring them to use a respirator while performing work inside the transport ducts; and,
    - failure to effectively train employees who were required to wear respirators.

May noted that OSHA defines a SERIOUS violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate impact on the safety and health of employees.

He urged New Hampshire employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.

OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.

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

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The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for 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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