Following two separate accidents within a week -- one resulting in a worker's death -- Active Oil Services Inc. was cited and fined $183,900.
The Newark, N.J. company is a contractor specializing in tank cleaning, tank removals and environmental work.
The first incident prompting an OSHA inspection occurred on Aug. 3, 1999, when Active Oil was engaged in a clean-out operation of an underground storage tank containing a flammable liquid at Tirenergy Corp. in Wind Gap, Pa.
The contents of the tank exploded, killing one employee and injuring two others.
According to George Tomchick, area director of the OSHA Allentown office, the company was issued violation for failure to obtain information on potential hazards at the site from the host employer; failure to adequately train personnel responsible for supervising confined space entry operations; and for burning and cutting a vessel which contained a flammable liquid before cleaning the vessel to ensure a no fire hazard existed.
Some of the violations relate to both OSHA's Permit Required Confined Space Standard and its Respiratory Protection standard, including failure to identify and evaluate hazards prior to entry of confined space; failure to test conditions within the space prior to entry being authorized; and failure to provide fit testing to employees required to use tight-fitting face piece respirators.
OSHA also cited Tirenergy Corp. for two serious violations, proposing a $2,850 penalty.
Tirenergy hired Active Oil to clean up its 10,000-gallon underground storage tank.
"Both of these companies took an unnecessary chance with the lives of the employees working on this project by not following OSHA guidelines. As a result, one life was lost," said Tomchick.
The second incident occurred on Aug. 9, 1999 at the Temple Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, N.J.
Two Active Oil employees were in the process of cleaning an in-ground oil tank and fell unconscious.
"In this instance, the employer established safety procedures for entry into dangerous confined spaces, but chose not to follow it's own procedures," said David I. Ippolito, area director of the Parisppany, N.J. OSHA office.