The state of Washington's OSHA has published their DRAFT standard on Confined Spaces.  The standard pretty closely mirrors federal OSHA's 1926.1201-.1213; however, the OSHA standards in WA must be written in a much more simplified manner, thus we end up with a standard that is easier to read and WA-OSHA does an EXCELLENT job explaining the requirements with their "Summary" in each section and the special NOTES they post through out the standard.  They have also made some things more clear... for example, in their definition of a confined space they use the phrase "Not primarily designed for human occupancy" vs. "Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy" as found in Federal OSHA's definition.  For those in facilities that really want a well explained standard, this is a MUST READ.  CLICK HERE

An elevator superintendent, 41, suffocated when his lifeline tangled in an unguarded and rotating auger. OSHA investigators determined three workers, including the elevator superintendent, had been standing over the unguarded auger using a pole in an attempt to dislodge soybean debris in a grain bin that contained more than 50,000 bushels of soybeans sloped 12 to 20 feet up its walls.  A federal investigation into the worker's death found multiple violations of federal safety standards for grain handling at the facility.  On Sept. 9, 2016, OSHA issued three (3) egregious willful and three (3) serious violations following its investigation of the March 16, 2016, death. From 2011 to 2015, federal inspectors cited the Nebraska farmer-owned cooperative and joint venture six times for violating grain-handling safety standards.  The agency has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  OSHA has proposed penalties of $411,540. View current citations below...

The company specializes in the cleaning of gasoline and gasoline tanks for gasoline retailers. On December 30 and 31, 2014, OSHA’s Compliance Officer (CSHO) conducted an inspection following a fatal accident at that worksite. An employee died after being found unresponsive at the bottom of a well containing a submersible turbine pump (STP) at a retail store under construction. Based upon the CSHO’s inspection, the Secretary of Labor, on May 14, 2015, issued a Citation and Notification of Penalty with three items (with subparts) alleging serious violations of 29 C.F.R. § 1910.23(a)(6) for failure to guard an open manhole; various subparts of § 1910.134 for deficiencies in its respirator program; and various subparts of § 1910.146 for failure to protect its employees from hazards associated with confined spaces. The Secretary proposed a total penalty of $13,600.00 for the Citation. Company timely contested the Citation. All of the violations are at issue.

Back in March of this year a major manufacturer of nitrogen and anhydrous ammonia had its second PRCS fatality in a four (4) month span.  Both of these incidents, as reported in the Incident Alerts, were construction-related permit-required confined space incidents.  NOTE: the first accident happened at their LA facility in December 2015 and resulted in two (2) serious citations for $14,000 and both have been contested.  OSHA just now closed out their investigation/inspection on this second fatality (in IA) and initially cited the contractor $203,000 under the relatively new Confined Spaces for Construction; the contractor had seven (7) citations deleted/vacated at their informal meeting so the case stands at 21 citations and $185,000.  I am not quite sure why this case did not warrant a press release or why this contractor has not been placed in the SVEP, but none the less here are the citations as they stand today...

Cal/OSHA has cited a metal processing company $73,105 for serious safety violations following a March 13, 2016 confined space accident in which a worker was asphyxiated.  Cal/OSHA investigators found the company failed to comply with confined space regulations that resulted in the serious illness. On March 13, a supervisor sent an untrained production assistant into a pressure vessel furnace to perform maintenance on it. The assistant did not have an oxygen sensor with him when he descended into the unit, which is only 49 inches wide and 98 inches tall, and was filled with argon gas. Argon is a noble gas that is chemically inert under most conditions and is colorless, odorless, and much heavier than air. When the worker was overcome by the argon gas and collapsed inside the unit, a second worker went in after him and became dizzy and lost consciousness. A third employee then took a nearby fan and blew fresh air into the confined space, which provided air to breathe. The first worker spent four days in a hospital receiving treatment for his illness, and the second employee was transported to the hospital and was treated and released.

OSHA has issued two (2) citations to a construction contractor for $14,000 after an employee died within a permit-required confined space on 12/7/2015.  The company is contesting the citations.  The citations involved:

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