OSHA and DOL clearly intend to get across the message that worker deaths are a big deal. The days when an environmental mishap brought larger fines than those assessed after somone dies in the workplace are over.
This week, we learn from OSHA:
The U.S. Department of Labors' Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued CES Environmental Services Inc. willful and serious citations after an investigation into a fatal explosion at the company's Griggs Road facility in Houston. Proposed penalties total $1,477,500.
In July 2009, an employee cleaning a tank was killed in an explosion when an altered piece of equipment ignited flammable vapors inside the tank. The fatality was the third death in less than a year at this employer's facilities; two hydrogen sulfide exposure-related deaths at a related facility, Port Arthur Chemical & Environmental Services LLC (PACES), occurred in December 2008 and April 2009.
"Proper precaution prevents deaths," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Employers should take steps to eliminate hazards and provide a safe working environment for their workers. That is the law."
Here's the website for CES Environmental Services, the firm where this fatality occurred.