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Tank Cleaning Firm Cited in Fatal Flash Fire

Monday, October 18, 2010

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An industrial tank cleaning company faces a $39,000 federal fine and 12 serious-violation citations following a confined-space flash fire that killed a worker who was cleaning a train tanker car.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that its inspection of Tactical Cleaning Co. after the fire April 22 found that the employer was not implementing a comprehensive permit-required confined-space program while workers entered confined spaces to perform tank cleaning activities at its Denver-area facility.

Vapors Ignited

The worker was cleaning the interior of a train tanker car that had been used to transport gasoline when a portable halogen lamp ignited vapors in the car. The man suffered second- and third-degree burns to 85% of his body and later died.

OSHA said the man had been wearing ordinary clothing over his flame-resistant work clothing, which kept the protective garments from working properly.

"The dangers of entering confined spaces that contain flammable vapors are well known to this industry," said Greg Baxter, OSHA's regional administrator in Denver. "For the safety of all their workers, employers must be vigilant when workers enter confined spaces, and take effective and specific protective action."

Serious Citations

The company was cited for allegedly failing to, among other things:

  • Follow permit-required confined space procedures;
  • Test conditions in confined space before entry;
  • Complete entry permits properly;
  • Evaluate the confined space;
  • Provide employees with adequate training;
  • Evaluate rescue services for employees entering confined spaces; and
  • Provide adequate personal protective equipment.

OSHA also said the company had used improper electrical equipment in flammable atmospheres.

"Tactical Cleaning is required, like all employers who have employees entering confined spaces, to have an effective safety and health management system that identifies all hazards involved in a confined space entry," said Herb Gibson, OSHA's Denver Area Office director. "All safety and health aspects of confined space entries must be thoroughly evaluated prior to entry."

OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company was fined a penalty of $39,000 and was given 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with the OSHA area director, or contest the action before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Company

Tactical Cleaning Company (TC2), a wholly owned subsidiary of Strategic Environmental & Energy Resources, provides fixed and mobile cleaning services to owners and operators of railcars, tanker trucks, frac tanks and vac boxes.

The company has locations in Denver, Tulsa, Omaha and Chambersburg, PA. Each location is equipped to handle food grade, chemical, petroleum and other assignments with commodity-specific cleaning procedures, the company says. Supported and monitored by in-house health and safety personnel, TC2 offerings complete waste profiling, manifesting and disposal that includes hazardous and non-hazardous trans-loading capabilities and a dedicated transportation fleet.


Tagged categories: Health and safety; OSHA; Railcars; Tanks and vessels

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