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Two workers die in flash fire; Texas boat company cited

fireThe deaths of two workers in a flash fire at a Texas boat repair facility earlier this year led to an OSHA investigation that resulted in 40 violations against Texas Barge & Boat, Inc.

The April 2 explosion and fire at the company's facility in Freeport, Texas occurred while employees were performing cutting and fire watch operations inside the hopper space, an area between the cargo hold and the bottom plate of the vessel, with limited means of entry and exit.

"It is critical that air monitoring is conducted when employees perform cutting operations in confined and enclosed spaces," said Mark Briggs, director of OSHA's Houston South Area Office. "This accident possibly could have been avoided if the company had followed OSHA's standards."

One willful violation was cited for failing to conduct air monitoring tests prior to employees entering the confined and enclosed spaces to perform oxygen and fuel gas cutting operations.

The serious violations involve failing to provide fall protection around the perimeter of the barge and around manholes, ensure compressed gas cylinders were secured, ensure proper electrical wiring was installed, ensure circuit breakers were labeled, provide respirator fit-testing, inspect oxygen and acetylene hoses, and develop a fire safety plan.

Proposed penalties total $221,200.

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