OSHA Issues $229,000 in Fines in Double Fatality

The two victims were welding to repair a leaking tank last July when it exploded, according to OSHA.

OSHA has issued $229,000 in penalties to two companies in connection with a July 2010 explosion where two welders died. The companies are Northeast Energy Management Inc. of Indiana, Pa., and Huntley & Huntley Inc. of Monroeville, Pa., and the incident occurred at the Huntley-owned Murry Heirs #6 well site in Cheswick.

The men were Northeast Energy workers; Huntley & Huntley contracted Northeast Energy to repair a leaking barrel tank at the site "and was responsible for ensuring that Northeast Energy properly trained its workers on safe welding procedures," according to OSHA's news release. "These companies did not ensure that proper welding procedures were followed, resulting in this tragic loss of life," said Robert Szymanski, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh area office. "OSHA remains committed to holding employers legally responsible when they fail to adhere to federal law and compromise the safety of workers."

A total penalty of $159,390 was assessed against Northeast Energy, which was cited for two allegedly willful violations involving failure to ensure workers were welding on a thoroughly cleaned tank that did not contain flammable materials which might produce a flammable or toxic vapor when subjected to heat, and determine whether flammable/combustible or other hazardous materials were present. With a $70,000 penalty, Huntley & Huntley received a citation for one allegedly willful violation for failing to ensure Northeast Energy suitably trained welders and supervisors in safe operation of welding equipment and safe use of the welding process.

OSHA said Northeast Energy also was cited for allegedly serious violations for failing to provide workers with flame-retardant protective clothing during welding operations, ensure that supervision determined the welder secured approval prior to beginning welding operations, and train employees in specific procedures needed to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals.

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