Suffocation Inside Rail Tanker

A 49-year-old worker suffocated inside of a chemical tank at the Port of New Orleans. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the Illinois company, Dedicated Tank Cleaning Services (TCS), sent Armond Stack and two others into a tank in October 2015 without first testing the air quality or providing them lifelines. As a result, Stack was killed and the others were hospitalized.  According to OSHA, this incident was not the first time the company violated safety rules.

“Dedicated TCS continues to ignore crucial safety procedures for working in confined space,” Dorinda Folse, OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge, said. “Sadly, the company’s inaction has cost a man his life.”

Penalties

OSHA is proposing $226,000 in fines against the company in connection with nine safety violations. Two of the nine proposed violations were classified as “willful,” which is the most serious category. This category is reserved for situations where an employer knows of an unsafe condition or practice, but does nothing about it.

Most of nine serious safety and health violations relate to the confined space standard. These include failing to do the following:

  • test conditions
  • provide appropriate explosion-proof lighting
  • review entry operations
  • verify permit entries, such as required tests and procedures
  • sign permits to authorize entry
  • provide training for the safe performance of duties in confined spaces
  • certify that training has been accomplished

The violations also include failing to provide hazard communication and personal protective equipment training for workers exposed to contact with corrosive chemicals. 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.

Before Stack’s death, OSHA cited the company for almost 30 violations. Many of those violations were related to failure to take proper precautions when sending workers into confined spaces filled with dangerous chemicals.

TCS is a tank cleaning service with about 55 employees in Louisiana and Illinois.