Two Workers are Dead after a Lack of Hazardous Energy Control Safeguards

Two Workers are Dead after a Lack of Hazardous Energy Control Safeguards

An unexpected steam release was the cause of death for two employees at the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Two workers at the Bridgeport veterans’ health care facility in Bridgeport, CT suffered from fatal injuries caused by hot steam after a metal fixture on a mainstream line blew off. The workers just completed repairs to the steam pipe within the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System West Haven campus in November 2020.

According to a press release, an OSHA inspection determined that VACT failed to protect employees from struck-by and burn hazards. The agency found numerous issues in the facility’s lockout/tagout program. One of the workers was an employee of VACT; the other was an employee of Mulvaney Mechanical Inc.

“These fatalities could have been prevented if the employer had complied with safety standards that are designed to prevent the uncontrolled release of steam,” said OSHA Area Director Steven Biasi in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “Tragically, these well-known protective measures were not in place and two workers needlessly lost their lives.”

The press release states-- OSHA found the VACT program failed to:

  • Properly shutdown to avoid additional or increased hazard(s) to employees.
  • Relieve or render safe all potentially hazardous residual energy such as condensate water. 
  • Maintain adequate procedures for isolating each steam main branch supplying campus buildings.
  • Conduct a periodic inspection of all lockout-tagout procedures to correct any deviations or inadequacies.
  • Provide adequate training to supervisory employees.
  • Retrain employees when there was a change in their job assignments, or a change in machines, equipment or processes that presented a new hazard.
  • Notify affected employees of the application and removal of lockout or tagout devices.
  • Inform Mulvaney Mechanical of VACT’s lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Ensure each authorized employee affix a personal lockout or tagout device to the group lockout device before working on the machine or equipment.

OSHA issued nine notices of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions: one willful, three repeat and five serious violations. VACT has 15 days from receipt to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or appeal the notices. The penalty amount would be $621,218 if VACT were a private sector employer.

The press release also states—Mulvaney Mechanical Inc. was cited for four serious violations* with $38,228 in proposed penalties for failing to:

  • Develop, document and use lockout/tagout procedures for the control of potentially hazardous energy.
  • Adequately train employees on the methods necessary to isolate and control energy.
  • Inform VACT of Mulvaney Mechanical’s lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Ensure that each authorized employee affixed a personal lockout or tagout device to the group lockout device.

Mulvaney Mechanical Inc. 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 OSH Review Commission.

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - May 2022

    May 2022

    Featuring:

    • WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY
      How Wearable Technology is Transforming Safety and the Industrial Workplace
    • TRAINING: CONFINED SPACES
      Five Tips to Improve Safety in Confined Spaces
    • INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE
      Monitor for Asbestos to Help Save Lives
    • PPE: FALL PROTECTION
      Fall Protection Can Be Surprising
    View This Issue