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Worker dies while cleaning oil residue inside rail car at Mounds, Illinois, facility

A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation found that Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. did not have equipment or trained personnel to rescue a 27-year-old worker promptly who collapsed and later died while cleaning a rail car. OSHA has cited seven willful and 14 serious safety violations, many involving permit-required confined space safety regulations. The company has also been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA determined that the employee entered a 30,000-gallon rail car on May 20, 2014, and suffered from cardiac arrhythmia. He was unable to exit the rail car on his own. The man had been on the job for about 14 months at the time of the incident.

"Permit-required confined spaces put workers at risk for serious injury and illness from hazards," said Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. "The employer must ensure that safety equipment, such as retrieval lines and proper respiratory protection, is provided to employees and used each time someone enters a confined space. Each year workers are fatally injured when working in confined spaces."

Environmental Remediation failed to monitor permit-required confined spaces; allowed entry when atmospheric conditions* were unacceptable; and did not provide personal protective equipment, including self-contained breathing apparatus and respirators. The company also failed to remove defective respirators from use. A confined space is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs, such as a rail car clean out, but it has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.

In addition, the company failed to designate trained rescue employees and use a retrieval system attached to the worker to aid in rescue. OSHA cited the company for seven willful violations. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Additionally, Environmental Remediation failed to comply with respiratory protection requirements, maintain rescue equipment, ensure ventilation equipment was used properly, and provide fall protection for workers at the top of the rail car, which exposed them to falls of 15 feet or more. A total of 14 serious citations were issued for these violations.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

OSHA has proposed fines totaling $188,400. To view the current citations, visit http://www.dol.gov/osha/pdf/Environmental-Remediation_977916_1118_14.pdf*

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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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