OSHA Cites Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. after Worker Dies

The worker died while cleaning oil residue inside a rail car at the company's facility in Mounds, Ill.

An investigation by OSHA found that Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. did not have equipment or trained personnel to rescue a 27-year-old worker who collapsed while cleaning a railcar and later died. OSHA announced it has issued seven willful and 14 serious safety violations, many involving permit-required confined space safety regulations, and proposed $188,400 in fines. 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."

According to OSHA, 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 allegedly also failed to remove defective respirators from use.

In addition, the company failed to designate trained rescue employees and use a retrieval system attached to the worker to aid in rescue. OSHA reported that 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.

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