Confined Space: Texas Company Cited by OSHA in Airport Fatality

HMN – A tragic confined space incident took the life of an Army veteran.  The report list several violations which resulted in an unnecessary death.  According to a report obtained by KXAN, ‘other employees told responding Terminal Operations employees that Deary had gone down into the grease trap area and had complained of not being able to breathe.’

 

The report says Deary tried to resurface but passed out and fell off the ladder, striking his head. Another employee reportedly tried to retrieve him but was unable to breathe and returned to the surface.

The report says that AFD confirmed the presence of hazardous chemicals and lack of oxygen in the grease trap area.

First responders began performing CPR on Deary, who was then transported to South Austin Medical Hospital. Two other employees exposed to this environment were also transported for evaluation.

Responders noted in the report that the “only personal protective equipment being utilized by the Liquid Environmental Solutions employees were jumpsuits, headlamps, and gloves.

The employee suffered asphyxiation while inside a manhole access space that lacked adequate oxygen, and a means to escape. OSHA determined that the company – which provides vacuum trucks to empty the airport’s grease traps – lacked proper procedures, training and equipment for accessing the permit-required confined space.

Confined Space Fatality

According to the OSHA report:

October 11, 2019

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Texas Company After Fatality

AUSTIN, TX – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Liquid Environmental Solutions of Texas LLC for workplace safety hazards following an employee fatality at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in April 2019. The company faces $301,188 in fines.

The employee suffered asphyxiation while inside a manhole access space that lacked adequate oxygen, and a means to escape. OSHA determined that the company – which provides vacuum trucks to empty the airport’s grease traps – lacked proper procedures, training and equipment for accessing the permit-required confined space.

“This tragedy could have been prevented if the company had followed proper safety procedures, such as air testing, communication systems and non-entry retrieval devices for employee rescue situations,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Loren Sweatt.

“Companies are legally required to test and monitor confined spaces for oxygen content before and during entry,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Eric Harbin.

OSHA’s Confined Spaces page includes a fact sheet on Procedures for Atmospheric Testing in Confined Spaces, a Confined Spaces Advisor, and a booklet on permit-required confined spaces.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citation 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.

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 help 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.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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