Worker in N.Y. fatally burned in confined space accident
No gas detection measures in place, inadequate ventilation
Serious workplace safety violations were found in connection with a September 2013 explosion that killed one worker and injured another at Canastota Wastewater Treatment plant in New York, according to OSHA.
Richard C. "Rick" Whitney Jr., 58, an employee of Joy Process Mechanical, was welding a pipe inside a methane gas dome at the plant when the explosion occurred. He suffered third-degree burns to most of his body and died three days later at a burn center in Boston.
Richard Sterling, an employee of M. Hubbard Construction, was standing atop a stepladder at an opening to the confined space at the time of the explosion, news sources report. Sterling suffered burns on his arms and face. He was treated at a local hospital and released the next day.
Confined space hazards not addressed
Investigators from OSHA's Syracuse Area Office found that both employers failed to ensure safeguards and to train workers on the hazards associated with methane gas and confined spaces. Workers were not provided with a meter to measure the presence of combustible gas. The confined space also lacked adequate ventilation and a retrieval system for swift exits in an emergency.
Hubbard Construction was also cited for ladder misuse and for using electrical equipment that had not been rated safe in a hazardous atmosphere.
As a result, Joy Process Mechanical was issued three serious citations with $14,700 in proposed fines. Hubbard Construction was issued seven serious citations with $31,020 in fines.