A large Midwestern tank cleaning company is facing federal accusations of exposing workers to respiratory and confined-space hazards while cleaning tanks at a job site.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Future Environmental Inc., of Mokena, IL, for one willful health and nine serious safety violations and proposed $122,760 in fines.
Future Environmental Inc.
|Its equipment, vapor recovery and tank bottom recycling have made Future Environmental “a giant in today’s tank cleaning operations in almost every terminal throughout the Midwest,” the company says.|
The company did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment. However, company safety director Stella Tuczak told the Chicago Sun-Times this week that Future Environmental was “absolutely” challenging the OSHA citations. She declined further comment, saying the matter was in litigation, the newspaper reported.
OSHA issued one willful health violation—its highest level of infraction—and a $69,300 fine for alleged failure to purge or ventilate a confined space (a storage tank) where workers were removing residual recycled fuel oil. OSHA also said the company had failed to provide continuous atmospheric monitoring of permit-required confined spaces during entry.
A willful violation is one committed with “intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard” for the law’s requirements or with “plain indifference” to employee safety and health.
Nine serious safety violations, carrying a total of $53,460 in fines, allege:
• Failure to evaluate employees’ exposure to benzene, xylene, toluene, naphthalene and other chemicals in a permit-required work space;
• Failure to provide protective clothing to employees exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons;
• Failure to have employees medically evaluated to determine their ability to use a respirator;
• Allowing employees using respirators to have excessive facial hair, compromising the equipment’s fit;
• Failure to isolate the permit-required confined space (PRCS) from other operations;
• Failure to identify the authorized entrants on the confined-space entry permit;
• Failure to ensure that employees were proficient in their PRCS duties;
• Failure to alert the local fire department (the designated rescue service) to the work underway or to determine the department’s availability in an emergency; and
• Failure to have employees wear full body harnesses with retrieval lines in case of emergency rescue.
A serious violation reflects substantial probability of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
About the Company
Future Environmental bills itself “as one of the Midwest’s largest used-oil collection companies and a leading provider of fully integrated environmental services.”
The company provides both environmental and industrial services, including emergency response and vacuum truck, pipeline and tank cleaning services.