The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined a Houston company $1,477,500 for a July 2009 explosion that left a worker dead. CES Environmental Services Inc. was fined after an investigation into the death of 45-year-old Bruce Clayton Howard, who was killed while cleaning a tank at a CES facility in Houston. According to OSHA, an altered piece of equipment ignited flammable vapors inside the tank. Federal regulators noted that the fatality was the third death in less than a year at CES facilities. Two hydrogen sulfide exposure-related deaths at a related facility, Port Arthur Chemical & Environmental Services LLC (PACES), occurred in December 2008 and April 2009.
Based on the most recent investigation, OSHA issued 15 willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $1,050,000, alleging that 15 pieces of electrical equipment were unsafe to use in the tank wash area due to the presence of flammable and combustible vapors. Two additional willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $125,000 also have been issued. One alleges that CES failed to ventilate tanks in which employees were working, exposing the workers to toxic atmospheric hazards. The other alleges that CES stored flammable and reactive chemicals together, which posed fire and explosion hazards.
In addition, OSHA issued 54 serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $302,500. These include allegations that CES failed to implement all aspects of the process safety management standard; provide proper respiratory protection, confined space rescue equipment and adequate fall protection; properly install and maintain boiler equipment; implement an emergency response plan, and adequate energy control procedures; train powered industrial truck operators; guard and anchor machinery adequately; store compressed gas cylinders safely; and label hazardous chemicals.
Source: Insurance Journal
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