A 48-year-old worker entered a confined space tanker-trailer in Lemont to inspect it as part of an annual U.S. Department of Transportation requirement and was overcome from exposure to bleach and chlorine gas. The worker was found unconscious in the tanker-trailer, he later died of his injuries.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined his employer, B & R Repair Inc. of Lemont, failed to identify and evaluate atmospheric hazards in the confined space, train workers on the confined space program, and ensure employees filled out a confined-space permit before entry into a confined space. OSHA also found the employer failed to equip the worker rescuing the unconscious employee with a retrieval system, implement its own procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, and numerous other violations of its permit-required confined space regulations. The company was also cited for failing to provide fall protection to an employee working on top of tanker trailers and provide training on fall hazards, respirators and hazard communication.
In total, OSHA cited two willful and 10 serious violations and proposed penalties of $326,306.
“In recent years, OSHA investigated instances in which workers suffered tragic injuries because employers failed to follow appropriate procedures for ensuring healthy atmospheric conditions inside a confined space and use of adequate respiratory protection before allowing workers to enter tanks,” explained OSHA Area Director Jacob Scott in Naperville. “The company must immediately review its confined space procedures, emergency action plans and provide additional training to protect workers on the job.”
The Chicago regional office established a Regional Emphasis Program in 2021 to reduce the risks tank cleaning workers face. The program focuses on employers in industries typically engaged in tank cleaning activities, including trucking, rail and road transportation, remediation services, material recovery and waste management services.
B & R Repair is an American truck and trailer repair company that provides services to all makes and models of tractors, tankers, trailers, trucks, buses and various cargo transport units. In addition to the main facility in Lemont, the company has service locations in Lansing and Wampum, Pennsylvania.
OSHA has specific guidance on permit required confined spaces.
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