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OSHA fines Florida utility over fatal June power plant explosion

02 January 2018

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued $140,000 in fines against Tampa Electric (TECO), owner and operator of the Big Bend power plant which suffered a catastrophic explosion in June 2017 that resulted in five deaths and a serious injury. In the incident, the clearance of a furnace blockage sent molten slag spewing across the space under the unit where a number of staff were working. 

OSHA said TECO did not have the right procedures in place, nor did the workers have proper protective gear.

TECO was fined $139,424 which included two ‘willful’ violations that were grouped together for one penalty, and two serious Personal Protective Equipment violations that were also grouped together.

Contractor Gaffin Industrial Services, which employed two of the deceased, received two serious citations and a $21,548 penalty for five violations for failure to provide personal protective equipment that would have protected workers against burns.

TECO spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs, quoted in the Tampa Times, said they “respectfully disagree with the suggestion we were willful or deliberately indifferent to the safety of workers” and had not yet decided whether to contest the citations. The company has 15 days to decide whether to contest.

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