An explosion onboard a towboat that killed three workers has resulted in OSHA issuing a total of 55 violations to five companies.

The January 2018 incident in Calvert City, Kentucky shipyard occurred when employees were cutting and welding in an atmosphere containing flammable gases. In addition to the fatalities, three workers were critically injured.

OSHA cited ship repair contractor First Marine LLC; insulation contractor Thermal Control and Fabrication Inc.; temporary staffing companies Hutco Inc. and Day Help LLC (doing business as Wise Staffing Group); and blasting and painting contractor Joe Rupcke. First Marine LLC has been placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA issued citations for failing to:

  • test confined spaces before entry
  • train workers on confined space entry operations
  • label chemical containers; and 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.

Proposed penalties against the five companies total $795,254.

"This tragedy could have been prevented if the employers had followed proper confined space procedures and implemented appropriate safety measures," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt A. Petermeyer.

See the citations for First Marine, Hutco, Thermal Control and Fabrication, Wise Staffing Group, and Joe Rupcke.