California residents may have read about a deadly accident at Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services in Omaha on April 14. Two employees died and another was hurt in the incident.
A major explosion occurred inside a railcar after a 41-year-old employee and a 45-year-old employee went inside of it to begin their work, even though it was known that the air quality within the railcar was dangerously close to causing an explosion. Once inside the railcar, the two workers, who were not adequately equipped with emergency rescue gear and proper respirators, were instantly killed in the blast.
After the deadly blast, officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation into each of the company's three locations. The company, which mainly cleans railcars that are used to haul items such as ethanol, gasoline, asphalt, pesticides and fertilizers, faces $963,000 in fines following those inspections. OSHA investigators reportedly found that the company failed to monitor and evaluate the air quality within the confined spaces of the railcars before and after employees entered them to do their work. They also discovered that the company failed to fit-test employees with respirators to keep them safe as they were inside the railcars. Among a list of other citations, OSHA officials stated that the company failed to implement safety training, committed electrical violations and failed to correct citations from 2013. The company was given 15 business days to respond to OSHA's penalties and citations.
Most California employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance to help cover the losses of an employee who is injured on the job. Many workers obtain the assistance of legal counsel when preparing and filing their required claims.
Source: EHS Today, "OSHA: Railcar Was Unsafe for Entry before Deadly Blast", Sandy Smith, Oct. 14, 2015
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