SYRACUSE, NY – Serious workplace safety violations were found in connection with the September 2013 explosion at the Canastota Wastewater Treatment Plant that killed one worker and injured another.
|Chemical gases and fumes pose health|
risks at wastewater treatment plants.
Joy Process Mechanical Inc. of East Syracuse and M. Hubbard Construction Inc. of Mottville were hired by the plant to replace piping inside a methane gas dome, a confined space.
The Joy Process Mechanical worker was welding inside the dome when the explosion occurred, burning him and a Hubbard Construction worker who was standing atop a stepladder opening to the confined space.
"This tragedy could have been prevented had basic safety precautions been implemented," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "Confined spaces and hazardous atmospheres pose dangerous risks to workers. Employers must provide the equipment and safeguards that prevent workers from getting hurt."
Investigators from OSHA's Syracuse Area Office found that both employers failed to ensure safeguards and to train workers on the hazards associated with methane gas and confined spaces. Workers were not provided with a meter to measure the presence of combustible gas.
The confined space also lacked adequate ventilation and a retrieval system for swift exits in an emergency. Hubbard Construction was also cited for ladder misuse and for using electrical equipment that had not been rated safe in a hazardous atmosphere.
As a result, Joy Process Mechanical was issued three serious citations with $14,700 in proposed fines. Hubbard Construction was issued seven serious citations with $31,020 in fines. 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.
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.
Methane gas is just one of the many indoor air pollutants at wastewater treatment plants. Electrocorp offers industrial air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA to remove sewage odors, VOCs, gases and other contaminants from the ambient air. Contact Electrocorp for more information.