OSHA Proposes Penalties of $287K Following Death of Two Workers from Not Enough Oxygen

OSHA Proposes Penalties of $287K Following Death of Two Workers from Not Enough Oxygen

The employer did not test the oxygen levels in the sewer manhole, OSHA said.

Two workers died from injuries after not having enough oxygen when in a confined space, OSHA said. Their employer now faces citations and proposed penalties of $287,000.

According to a news release, in June 2022 at a worksite in Edmond, Oklahoma, a worker trying to perform testing became unconscious after entering a 20-foot-deep sewer manhole. Another worker attempted to rescue the first worker but became unconscious after entering the manhole. Due to not enough oxygen, both workers eventually lost their lives.

After the incident in the confined space, OSHA found that the employer, Belt Construction Inc. of Texarkana, Arkansas, did not conduct testing of oxygen levels or get permits, the news release said. Workers were also allegedly not trained on “confined space entry procedures” and were not given rescue equipment.

"Two lives were lost—and family, friends and co-workers are left to grieve—because Belt Construction Inc. failed to follow legally required steps designed to prevent a needless incident like this from happening," said OSHA Area Director Steven Kirby in Oklahoma City in the news release.

Belt Construction Inc. was cited for six serious and two willful violations and faces proposed penalties of $287,150.

From 2011 to 2018, an average of almost 129 workers lost their lives every year in confined space incidents, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In that span, 2017 saw the highest amount of confined-space-related deaths, with 166 deaths.

"Employers assigning people to work inside a confined space must comply with safety standards, including providing and ensuring the use of required safety equipment, and obtain all necessary permits before the job starts to avoid tragedy,” Kirby continued in the news release.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is a former Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety,who has since joined OH&S’s client services team. She continues to work closely with OH&S’s editorial team and contributes to the magazine.

Product Showcase

  • SwabTek® Cannabis Test Kit

    The SwabTek® Cannabis Test Kit is a single-use spot test designed for use in screening for cannabis compounds in any sample type or on any surface. The test is capable of identifying the presumed presence of cannabinoids in very small quantities, with a level of detection as little as 6 μg in mass. Learn more about the SwabTek® Cannabis Test Kit and the rest of SwabTek surface drug testing solutions through the webinar titled "Everything You Want To Know About Surface Testing" Read More

  • Full Line of Defense Against Combustible Dust Nilfisk

    Nilfisk provides a comprehensive range of industrial vacuums meticulously crafted to adhere to NFPA 652 housekeeping standards, essential for gathering combustible dust in Class I, Group D, and Class II, Groups E, F & G environments or non-classified settings. Our pneumatic vacuums are meticulously engineered to fulfill safety criteria for deployment in hazardous surroundings. Leveraging advanced filtration technology, Nilfisk ensures the secure capture of combustible materials scattered throughout your facility, ranging from fuels, solvents, and metal dust to flour, sugar, and pharmaceutical powders. Read More

  • Safety Shower Test Cart

    The Safety Shower Test Cart speeds up and simplifies emergency shower tests, ensures you stay in compliance with OSHA regulations, and significantly reduces testing costs. With 7 unique features, the cart makes testing easy, effective, and efficient. You can test water clarity, flow, temperature, and spread—all at the same time! Most safety shower testing kits create a mess, take too much time to use, and don't fully help you stay in compliance with OSHA & ANSI standards. Transform the way you test emergency showers with Green Gobbler Safety. Read More


Artificial Intelligence