Confined Space Fatalities Linked to Failure in Testing Atmospheric Hazards
Federal workplace safety investigators have determined that an Arkansas construction contractor failed to test oxygen levels in the confined space before two workers entered a sewer 20 feet below ground at an Edmund work site and died because of a lack of oxygen.
An OSHA investigation into the incident found that an employee of Belt Construction Inc. climbed into a newly installed sewer manhole to conduct testing when they lost consciousness. Trying to rescue the worker, a second employee followed into the manhole and lost consciousness. Both workers later succumbed to their injuries.
OSHA investigators determined the Texarkana, Arkansas, company did not complete the required planning before allowing workers to enter the space. A confined space must be tested for safety in pre-entry planning, including determining if ventilation is needed. Belt Construction also failed to provide rescue equipment and did not train workers on confined space entry procedures or obtain permits required by federal law.
OSHA cited the company for six serious and two willful violations and proposed $287,150 in penalties.
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