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Trucking company cited for death of worker in tanker explosion

Plains Trucking has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for nine safety violations after a worker was fatally injured March 27 while cleaning the inside of a crude oil tanker that exploded at the company’s facility in Ross. OSHA also fined the company $28,000.

The incident occurred when another worker lowered a treble light, not approved for use in such conditions, into the tanker. The second worker suffered a concussion and a head laceration, according to OSHA.

“The company failed in its responsibility to train workers and evaluate the working conditions of confined spaces, which carry unique hazards, before allowing workers to enter,” said Eric Brooks, OSHA’s area director in Bismarck. “No job should cost a person’s life because of an employer’s failure to properly protect and train workers.”

One willful safety violation involves failing to develop and implement a confined space entry program. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Eight serious safety violations were cited for failing to evaluate the need for personal protective equipment; lack of machine guarding on pulleys and belts; failing to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program; use of electrical lighting not approved for a hazardous location; and failing to compile a list of chemicals, such as crude oil, which was in use, and provide workers training on those chemical hazards and precautions. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA has placed Plains Trucking in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA’s SVEP focuses on “recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.” Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

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