On February 28, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Missouri-based industrial contractor Coatings Unlimited Inc. following the death of an employee. According to the official report, the victim lost his life after he was exposed to excessive levels of methyl ethyl ketone while working in a manhole in Boschertown. The company was fined $224,000. The project's general contractor, St. Louis-headquartered KCI Construction Co. Inc., was also slapped with infractions and fined $5,600.
The nature of the violations that Coatings Unlimited incurred stemmed from failing to test atmospheric conditions and adhere to OSHA's confined space standards. There were also 10 serious citations levied against the company after federal health and safety officials discovered there was no respiratory protection program in place and employees that used this form of protective clothing required to undergo medical evaluations. Finally, there were no fire extinguishers and portable extension ladders readily available.
"Employers have a responsibility to take all necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace and to ensure workers are given the proper training to conduct required tasks. Workers should be provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment to limit exposure to hazardous chemicals," said OSHA's Kansas City, Missouri, Regional Administrator Charles Adkins in a press statement. "It is tragic that one employee lost his life during this construction project."
Because of the serious nature of the violations, OSHA has placed Coatings Unlimited in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates follow-up and surprise inspections.
KCI Construction was cited for failing to conduct frequent inspections of worksites and materials used. The infractions also involved neglecting to train workers to identify unsafe working conditions.
Like all companies that are fined and cited by OSHA, Coatings Unlimited and KCI Construction have 15 days to decide whether it will pay the monetary penalties, request a meeting with local OSHA directors or appeal the charges and monetary penalties.
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