On February 20, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that it cited Texas-based Watco Mechanical Services, Jordan General Contractors Inc. and JP Electric after alleged safety violations were discovered following the death of two workers. According to OSHA's press release, a flash fire caused by combustible dust led to the fatalities. The three businesses were also fined $120,000, collectively.
OSHA officials started the investigation last August at the Watco Mechanical Services worksite in Hockley where employees for the locomotive and car repair services business were engaging in blasting operations. The workers were slicing metal using a torch when flames broke out and claimed the lives of two Jordan General Contractor personnel. The company the victims worked for specializes in commercial contracting and is based in Magnolia.
Jordan General Contractors was hit with seven serious violations for neglecting to institute a respiratory program, provide hazard awareness training to workers coming into contact with combustible dust and stop cutting operations when combustible dust is discovered. OSHA agents also noticed that personnel did not use a body belt when working in an aerial lift and failed to adhere to excessive weight load requirements. These infractions led to $20,240 in penalties.
Kansas-based Watco Mechanical Services was also found to be at fault for the fatal accident. Citations were given for neglecting to manage combustible dust emissions, keep work areas free of combustible dust and guarantee emergency cylinder respirators were fully charged. Two other-than-serious violations stemmed from failing to certify emergency respirator and masks and record filter changes. These offenses cost Watco $91,300.
Lastly, OSHA found that Texas-headquartered company JP Electric was guilty of not prohibiting cutting efforts when combustible dust was nearby. This resulted in a $2,800 fine.
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