OSHA Compliance

2 workers died and 2 received 3rd degree burns in a confined space

2 workers died and 2 received 3rd degree burns in a confined space
OSHA (U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has cited a shipbuilder company named VT Halter Marine Inc., and proposed penalty $1,322,000. The company experienced an explosion in November 2009 that killed two workers and seriously injured two other workers.

Hilda L. Solis, the Secretary of Labor said,"This was a horrific and preventable situation. The employer was aware of the hazards and knowingly and willfully sent workers into a confined space with an explosive and toxic atmosphere. Loss of life can never be something considered acceptable or as a course of doing business."

The company has been cited for 17 willful and 11 serious violations. The willful citations are due to the companies negligence in inspecting and testing the confined space before entry. It is a very hazardous point not to prevent entry into confined spaces where concentration of flammable vapors exceed the prescribed limits. More over the company exposed the workers without explosion proof lighting in a hazardous location. OSHA counts a willful violation as committed with intentional, or voluntary disregard that leads the company not responsible for their workers.

Dr. David Michael, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, said that VT Halter knowingly and willfully failed to protect the lives of their workers in a confined space even though they had the knowledge and equipment necessary to do so. He added that they would not tolerate that type of blatant and egregious disregard for the health and safety of workers.

OSHA has given 15 business days to the company from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, and request an informal conference with OSHA's area director. The company will have to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the OSHA Act of 1970, employers should provide safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. For their assistance, OSHA has offered safety training programs that ensure the safety and health of the workers at workplace.

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