Texas company cited after employee fatalities; fined nearly $500k

A company in Pasadena, Texas, has been cited by federal officials and faces penalties of almost $500,000 for exposing employees to confined space hazards after two workers died.

OSHA cited Alpha Technical Services (ATS) – doing business as Quala Rail and Specialty – after two employees were fatally overcome by fumes while cleaning a tank trailer. The company faces $497,920 in penalties.

OSHA investigators determined that one employee became unresponsive after entering the trailer’s confined space. After a non-entry retrieval system used to rescue the worker failed, several employees entered the tank in an attempted rescue when a second employee became unresponsive.

OSHA cited ATS for a willful and two repeat violations for confined space hazards, including failing to conduct appropriate tests to ensure atmospheric conditions were safe for entry.

“This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had complied with the law and tested and monitored the oxygen level within the tank before permitting workers to enter,” OSHA Houston South Area Director Mark Briggs said in a media release.

ATS has 15 business days from receipt of the citations 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.

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