OSHA Investigation into Fatal Accident at Truck Repair Company

by | Sep 14, 2022 | Industrial Accident, Wrongful Death

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has completed its investigation into the March 7, 2022 chemical exposure death of a worker at B & R Repair Inc. of Lemont, Illinois.  During the incident, a worker entered a tanker-trailer to inspect it and was exposed to significant levels of bleach and chlorine gas.  The worker lost consciousness as a result, and later died from his injuries.

The OSHA investigation determined that B & R Repair did not follow required federal standards which could have prevented this deadly incident. Following the investigation, OSHA issued multiple citations, for violations of the below federal guidelines:

  • 29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1)(i): When the employer had assessed the workplace hazard(s) and determined that hazard(s) were present, the employer did not select and/or use the types of personal protective equipment that would protect the affected employee from the hazard(s) identified.
  • 29 CFR 1910.132(f)(1): 29 CFR 1910.132(f)(1): The employer did not provide training to each employee who is required by this section to use personal protection equipment (PPE).
  • 29 CFR 1910.134(e)(1): The employer did not provide a medical evaluation to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator, before the employee was fit tested or required to use the respirator in the workplace.
  • 29 CFR 1910.134(f)(2): 29 CFR 1910.134(f)(2): The employer did not ensure that an employee using a tight-fitting respirator is fit tested prior to initial use, whenever a different respirator facepiece (size, style, make or model) is used, and at least annually thereafter.
  • 29 CFR 1910.134(k)(1): The employer did not provide respirator training that ensured that each employee could demonstrate knowledge of at least the following elements: Why the respirator is necessary and how improper fit, usage, or maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the respirator; What the limitations and capabilities of the respirator are; How to use the respirator effectively in emergency situations, including situations in which the respirator malfunctions; How to inspect, put on and remove, use, and check the seals of the respirator; What the procedures are for maintenance and storage of the respirator; and How to recognize medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective use of respirators.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(d)(2): Under the permit-required confined space program required by 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(4), the employer did not identify and evaluate the hazards of permit spaces before employees entered.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(d)(5)(iii): Under the permit-required confined space program required by 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(4), when testing for atmospheric hazards, the employer did not evaluate permit space conditions when entry operations were conducted by testing first for oxygen, then for combustible gases and vapors, and then for toxic gases and vapors.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(d)(6):Under the permit-required confined space program required by 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(4), the employer did not provide at least one attendant outside the permit space into which entry was authorized for the duration of entry operations.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(e)(1):Before entry was authorized, the employer did not document the completion of measures required by 29 CFR 1910.146(d)(3) by preparing an entry permit.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(g)(1): The employer did not provide training so that all employees whose work was regulated by 29 CFR 1910.146 (permit required confined spaces) acquired the understanding, knowledge, and skills necessary for the safe performance of the duties assigned under 29 CFR 1910.146.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(k)(1)(ii): The employer did not evaluate a prospective rescue service’s ability, in terms of proficiency with rescue related tasks and equipment, to function appropriately while rescuing entrants from the particular permit space or types of permit spaces identified.
  • 29 CFR 1910.151(c): Where employees were exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body were not provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.
  • 29 CFR 1910.1200(h)(1): Employees were not provided effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment and whenever a new hazard that the employees had not been previously trained about was introduced into their work area.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(k)(3): The employer did not use a retrieval system or methods to facilitate non-entry rescue when an authorized entrant entered a permit space.
  • 29 CFR 1910.146(d)(9): The employer did not develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, for rescuing entrants from permit spaces, for providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees, and for preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting a rescue.

As a result of the findings, OSHA recommended fines totaling $326,306.00.

It goes without saying that safe companies must have adequate policies and procedures to protect their workers.  It is more than merely having a written down procedure, companies must ensure that their workers understand and follow what has been developed.  This company should have had adequate confined space entry procedures to ensure this incident never occurred.

OSHA has previously warned about risks to workers as a result of confined space entry:

Confined spaces may be encountered in virtually any occupation; therefore, their recognition is the first step in preventing fatalities. Since deaths in confined spaces often occur because the atmosphere is oxygen-deficient, toxic or combustible, confined spaces that contain or have the potential to contain a serious atmospheric hazard should be classified as Permit-required confined spaces and should be tested prior to entry and continually monitored.

Our experienced lawyers have handled personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits of all kinds and have the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured due to chemical or gas exposure.  The experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an industrial accident.

Our lawyers have represented numerous workers who have sustained serious and catastrophic injuries on a job site as a result of the negligence of another party.  There are strict and short time limits on making claims, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your legal rights.