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Tank cleaning company fined £328,000 for failing to protect workers from toxic gas

30 October 2023

A tank cleaning company has been fined after two employees suffered injuries when exposed to hydrogen sulphide that was present during the cleaning process ­­of a tanker truck on 25 April 2023 in the city of Beaumont, Texas. The colourless, flammable, and highly toxic gas also caused harm to two municipal firefighters who attended the scene.

Following a thorough investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ascertained that Trimac Transportation Inc., which operates as National Tank Services, neglected to provide the requisite respiratory protection. Consequently, two of its workers were transported to the hospital, with one requiring extended care. The first responders were treated on the scene.

The OSHA investigation revealed further lapses on the part of National Tank Services, including failure to assess the workplace for potential respiratory dangers, neglect in monitoring employees for possible exposure to hazardous substances, and inadequate provision of suitable respirators for employees. OSHA proposed penalties of $399,349 (£328,000) to the company after citing nine health violations, including two wilful, three repeat and four serious.

"Exposure to toxic gases is a known health risk when cleaning tanks and trailers. National Tank Services must cease their lax approach to health and safety standards and immediately implement respiratory protection requirements, testing and other safety measures to prevent worker's exposure to these deadly gases," said OSHA Area Director Mark Briggs in Houston. "The company's repeated violations of federal and industry-recognized safety and health standards resulted in the hospitalization of one employee and injuries to another worker and first responders on the scene. This will not be tolerated."

Investigators also found National Tank Services again failed to provide protective clothing, eye, face and hand protection, did not label containers and failed to provide injury and illness logs to OSHA within four business hours, violations previously cited in the past five years at their facilities in Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Workers were also exposed to fall hazards because the company failed to install mid rails on the stairway and on the catwalk platform guardrail system.

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