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Railcar Servicer Fined $550K After Worker Fatality

Posted on 1/6/2020 by Lauren Scott

On December 4, OSHA fined a railcar company $551,226 due to confined space safety violations that led to the death of an employee in Pittston, Pennsylvania.

The employee was performing maintenance on a railcar containing crude oil sludge in May 2019 when he asphyxiated. As a result, OSHA cited the company for four willful and three serious violations for failing to protect employees from the hazards of entering permit-required confined spaces and inadequate respiratory protection procedures.

OSHA also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, reserved for employers who demonstrate indifference to their OSH Act obligations by “willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”

What is OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program? 

To be considered for the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, an inspection must meet one or more of the following criteria:
  1. A fatality/catastrophe inspection in which OSHA finds one or more willful or repeated violations or failure-to-abate notices based on a serious violation related to a death of an employee or three or more hospitalizations.

  2. An inspection in which OSHA finds two or more willful or repeated violations or failure-to-abate notices (or any combination of these violations/notices), based on high gravity serious violations related to a High-Emphasis Hazard. (High-Emphasis Hazards refers to only certain high-gravity serious violations of specific standards covered under falls or the National Emphasis Programs regardless of the type of inspection being conducted).

  3. An inspection in which OSHA finds three or more willful or repeated violations or failure-to-abate notices (or any combination of these violations/notices), based on high gravity serious violations related to hazards due to the potential release of a highly hazardous chemical, as defined in the PSM standard.

  4. Any egregious enforcement action (per-instance citation).
The railcar servicer was given 15 business days to comply or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Online Now: Confined Space Awareness Training

Lion offers Confined Spaces Entry Awareness online training for employees who work around hazardous confined spaces and need to know the risks associated with unauthorized entry in these spaces. Training is completed online, at your own pace. With the ability to start, pause, and complete the course from any computer or mobile device, this OSHA training course gives you the flexibility to train how you want and when you need to.

Tags: confined space, confined space hazard, employee safety, enforcement, fines, osha, Rail, rail car, railcar, railroad, safety, work hazard, worker safety, workplace safety

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