OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc., of Bristol, Connecticut, for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following a June 18, 1999, explosion at a Norwalk, Conn., worksite. OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $66,150.
According to Clifford S. Weston, OSHA area director in Bridgeport, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection initiated June 21, 1999 at the former Guard All Chemical Company tank farm located at 350 Ely Avenue in Norwalk. Clean Harbors was decontaminating, dismantling and disposing of 39 above ground chemical tanks and had seven employees working onsite at the time at the time of the inspection. OSHA's inspection was prompted by the June 18 incident in which a 6,000-gallon storage tank containing flammable naphtha residue exploded while a Clean Harbors employee was using an acetylene torch to cut the tank's collar bolts.
"OSHA's inspection found that this employer had failed to implement several basic safeguards for employees who were working on this site and whose duties involved entering the tanks," said Weston. "First of all, Clean Harbors did not implement a site-specific safety and health plan prior to starting this project. The plan would have identified the various hazardous substances, such as methanol, toluene, methylene chloride, and various solvents and oils, on the jobsite and also evaluated and addressed the hazards posed to employees by those substances.
"In addition, the tanks' interior atmospheres had not been tested prior to worker entry to identify both chemical exposure levels and respiratory hazards posed by those substances," he said. "Also, the tank which exploded had not been thoroughly cleaned, ventilated and adequately tested for the presence of a flammable atmosphere before the worker began cutting operations with the torch."
The inspection also found that:
"Though it's fortunate that no serious injuries occurred here, that in no way relieves an employer of the responsibility of providing a safe and healthful worksite," said Weston. "It shouldn't take an incident of this type or the possibility of OSHA enforcement to prompt an employer to comply with primary health and safety requirements."
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
Weston urged southwestern Connecticut employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Bridgeport and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one 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 defined as one in which there is a 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 relationship to the safety and health of employees.
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, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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.
|OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|