Check on Air Quality in Railcar Indicated Risk of Explosion Moments before Death of Workers

Check on Air Quality Indicated Explosion Risk Moments Before Workers Died: OSHA

Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services has been cited for more than 30 violations after the incident. The company faces penalties of $963,000, and OSHA has placed it in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

An OSHA investigation has resulted in seven egregious willful, three willful, two repeat, one other than serious, and 20 serious safety and health violations being issued to Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services for violations at its Omaha facilities. The citations are the result of an explosion that killed two employees and injured another; The investigation revealed that a check of the air quality inside the railcar where the explosion took place indicated a serious risk of an explosion, according to OSHA.

Despite this check, the company sent two employees into the railcar without monitoring the air for explosive hazards. According to a news release, the explosion blew off the escape ladder of the railcar while trapping one of the deceased in the car and throwing the other fatally injured victim over the top.

"Our hearts go out to the families of these workers, whose deaths were so senseless and preventable," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "This isn't the first time this employer put its workers' lives at risk — but OSHA will do everything in our power to ensure it is the last."

The egregious willful violations involve multiple instances of failing to monitor air quality properly in confined spaces and for not fit-testing employees required to use respirators. "This company has regularly failed to use appropriate equipment and procedures to keep their employees safe, and in this case it had tragic consequences," said Jeff Funke, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "The company needs to immediately reevaluate its procedures for entering and cleaning railcars."

The company faces penalties of $963,000, and OSHA has placed it in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The egregious willful violations failing to monitor air quality properly in confined spaces as required and for not fit-testing employees required to use respirators in railcars.

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