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Fatal shipyard explosion leads to nearly $800,000 in OSHA fines

Fatal shipyard explosion leads to nearly $800,000 in OSHA fines

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited five contractors for safety and health violations after three employees were killed and two others critically injured following an explosion onboard a towboat in Calvert City, Kentucky, shipyard.

An investigation into the incident found that that the explosion occurred when employees were cutting and welding in an atmosphere containing flammable gases. OSHA issued citations for failing to test confined spaces before entry, train workers on confined space entry operations, and label chemical containers; for exposing employees to asphyxiation, fire, explosion, chemical, trip and drowning hazards; and allowing hot work/welding to be performed without testing for an explosive atmosphere, the agency said Tuesday in a statement.

OSHA cited ship repair contractor First Marine L.L.C., of Calvert City, Kentucky; insulation contractor Thermal Control and Fabrication Inc., of Metropolis, Illinois; temporary staffing companies Hutco Inc., of Broussard, Louisiana, and Day Help L.L.C., doing business as Tupelo, Mississippi-based Wise Staffing Group; and blasting and painting contractor Joe Rupcke, of Paducah, Kentucky.

First Marine L.L.C. has been placed in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The five companies collectively received 55 of violations with proposed penalties totaling $795,254, according to the statement.

Officials with each company could not immediately be reached for comment.

“This tragedy could have been prevented if the employers had followed proper confined space procedures and implemented appropriate safety measures,” Atlanta-based OSHA regional administrator Kurt A. Petermeyer said in the statement.


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