Yacht Company Cited for Hazardous 'Hookahing,' Other Diving Dangers

OSHA has cited Scuba Clean Inc. in St. Petersburg, Fla., for alleged safety and health violations. The company provides yacht sales and services designed, according to its website, to "make boating easier, safer and more enjoyable." OSHA initiated an inspection after receiving a complaint in December 2009. Penalties total $200,900.

The company has been cited with three willful safety violations and proposed penalties of $147,000 for hazards associated with divers not being trained, divers not being accompanied by another diver with continuous visual contact, and using air hoses not rated for diving. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employees' safety and health.

OSHA also cited the company for 16 serious safety and health violations with proposed penalties of $53,900. These violations are related to "hookah," a method of diving that uses a surface air supply to deliver air rather than a scuba tank. OSHA said Scuba Clean failed to provide equipment needed to safely perform "hookah" dive operations, to secure compressed air cylinders, and to develop and maintain a written chemical hazard communication program. Violations also include deficiencies relating to the storage of chlorine with other flammable and combustible liquids.

One other-than-serious violation has been cited with no proposed penalty. The violation concerns voluntary respirator users not being provided information contained in Appendix D of OSHA's respirator standards. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

"Management has demonstrated disregard for its employees' safety and health, and needs to take action immediately before there is a serious injury or fatality," said Les Grove, OSHA's area director in Tampa, Fla.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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