A 42-year-old laborer leak-testing joints inside a 54-inch round pipe suffered fatal blunt force injuries in October 2015 as an inflatable “bladder” ruptured at a Springfield waste-water treatment plant.
Recently, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found his employer, Henderson Construction of Central Illinois Inc., failed to train him properly on the testing procedure.
The agency also cited Henderson and three other contractors working on the $54.4 million renovation of the Springfield Metro Sanitary District’s Sugar Creek Plant for failing to manage how and when workers entered the large round pipe, and other violations of federal safety guidelines for confined spaces in construction.
These are among the first citations issued under OSHA’s confined space in construction standard. The new standard took effect on Aug. 15, 2015.
On April 11, OSHA issued citations to Henderson, Williams Brothers Inc. – the controlling contractor on the site – and two other subcontractors, Tobin Bros. and Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc. for multiple safety violations following its investigation into the Oct. 20, 2015 incident. The worker succumbed to his injuries five days later.
In August 2015, OSHA implemented its confined space in construction standard after research showed proper safety procedures would protect hundreds of workers each year from life-threatening hazards.
Hazards include the risks of toxic exposure, electrocution, explosion and asphyxiation present for workers in confined spaces such as pipes, manholes, crawl spaces and tanks. In an emergency, it can be difficult to exit these spaces quickly or for rescuers to enter safely.
The agency’s investigation also found the four companies failed to continuously monitor confined spaces for atmospheric and other hazards and train workers in hazards.
Following its investigation, the agency cited:
- Henderson Construction, based in Sherman, for five serious violations including failing to train workers to operate equipment. The company faces proposed penalties of $35,000.
- Tobin Bros., based in Peoria, for 13 serious violations with penalties of $44,800.
- Williams Bros., based in Peoria Heights, for two serious violations with penalties of $10,800.
- Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, based in Springfield, for six serious violations with penalties of $30,000.
Each employer was given 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Peoria, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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