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Tank Cleaner Fined $122K for Exposures

Thursday, October 6, 2011

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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.

 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.

Willful Violations

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.

Serious Violations

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.


Tagged categories: Confined space; Health and safety; OSHA; Regulations; Respirators; Tanks and vessels; Violations

Comment from Car F., (10/7/2011, 12:27 PM)

I place my trust on the regulatory body: they got nothing to gain by making up these accusations, thus they are probably real. The company should be grateful that they only received a fine, imagine if they have caused injury or death to other humans? I still believe that imposing monetary fines it is not a sufficient deterrent for wilfull criminal behaviour, such as the one displayed in this case: there should be mandatory jail time for those found responsible. If a person serves time for stealing groceries from a supermarket, someone wilfully risking death and injury SHOULD be jailed, no questions asked.

Comment from Billy Russell, (10/9/2011, 9:13 PM)

There needs to be alot more inspections of these companies delibertly exposing employees to hazerdous chemicals without following propper procedure,as well as these third party inspection companies with DOT contracts looking the other way when contractors are spilling "Potentially hazerdous RED paint chips in the cape fear river,it should be a crime when Billing hours are more important than doing the job they were hired to do,Together we can bring change to our industry lets do it right or go home,or put them in jail.looking the other way for the sake of a job should never be tolerated people and the enviorment are more important than your Billing hours!!!!!!!!

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