"Employers have a responsibility to take all necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace and to ensure workers are given the proper training to conduct required tasks. Workers should be provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment to limit exposure to hazardous chemicals," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "It is tragic that one employee lost his life during this construction project."
The three willful Coatings Unlimited violations include failing to implement safety precautions prior to assigning an employee work in six separate confined spaces, test the confined space for atmospheric conditions prior to and during entry, and control exposure to methyl ethyl ketone through the use of engineering controls, such as ventilation, to ensure workers did not exceed the permissible exposure limit. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Coatings Unlimited was also cited with 10 serious violations, five for violating OSHA's respiratory protection standards, including failing to provide work site procedures to protect employees when an atmospheric condition existed in a confined space; provide a knowledgeable person as a respirator program administrator manager; provide medical evaluations to all employees using respirators; and provide annual respirator training and maintain respirator fit-test training records. The remaining violations involve failing to provide proper chemical-resistant gloves for methyl ethyl ketone use; provide training on the hazards of chemicals used in the workplace or on confined space hazards; provide fire extinguishers on scene for use when flammable liquids were in use; and provide adequate use of portable extension ladders as a means of egress from a confined space.
Coatings Unlimited was also issued one other-than-serious citation for failing to label storage tanks with signage to identify chemical hazards. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
KCI Construction was cited with one serious violation for failing to conduct frequent and regular inspections of the job site material and equipment by a competent person and train workers to recognize unsafe confined space conditions. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Due to the nature of the hazards and the violations cited, OSHA has placed Coatings Unlimited Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA's SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
The citations for Coatings Unlimited can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CoatingsUnlimited-601618-0215_13.pdf*
Citations for KCI Construction Co. can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/KCI-629298-0215_13.pdf*.
Proposed penalties for Coatings Unlimited total $224,000 and for KCI Construction, $5,600. Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's St. Louis Area Office at 314-425-4261.
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 ensure 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.