A worker at Watco Investments LLC reported suffering from respiratory inflammation after performing welding work inside a rail car in Omaha. OSHA has cited the company, operating as Watco Companies Inc., for three repeat and three serious safety violations, many involving OSHA's confined space safety regulations. OSHA has proposed fines of $133,900 for the company, which specializes in rail car repairs.
OSHA initiated the March 27, 2014, inspection after receiving a report of the illness from the Nebraska Department of Labor Workers' Compensation Division. OSHA has a Local Emphasis Program on Workers' Compensation* to reduce injuries and illnesses in private industry within Nebraska.
The inspection found that Watco Companies allowed employees to enter rail cars to perform repair tasks, including welding, without implementing procedures required under OSHA's permit-required confined space regulations. A confined space is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs, has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy, such as an enclosed rail car.
OSHA found three repeat violations for failure to implement training, procedures and practices for safe entry into these spaces, including the company's failure to evaluate for hazards, and to provide workers with communication devices or implement measures to prevent unauthorized entry.
Watco Companies was previously cited for these violations in 2013 in Texas.
Serious violations were cited for failure to provide administrative and engineering controls to reduce damaging noise exposure, electrical hazards and lack of atmospheric controls in confined spaces. To view current citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/WatcoInvestmentsLLC_965350_0917_14.pdf*.
Watco Companies, a transportation company based in Pittsburg, Kansas, provides mechanical, transportation, terminal and port service solutions for customers throughout North America and Australia. Watco Companies employs about 4,500 workers nationwide and 30 in Omaha.