The federal government proposed to fine a local company $56,000 for “willful and serious” health and safety violations after the death of an employee at his Erie Boulevard workplace last August.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the citation against Precision Industrial Maintenance Inc. on Monday. A company spokesman was not available for comment.
OSHA said the company at 1710 Erie Boulevard committed one willful citation, carrying a $35,000 proposed fine, for not providing employees with confined space rescue training at least every 12 months.
It also said the company committed five serious citations, carrying $21,000 in fines, for failing to test conditions in confined spaces before entry; for not completing required entry permits; for not providing confined space training to employees; for not evaluating rescue services for employees entering confined spaces; and for not posting confined space warning signs.
“These citations encompass health and safety hazards associated with work in permit-required confined spaces, such as this one,” said Edward Jerome, OSHA’s area director in Albany in a news release.
“These conditions must be addressed promptly and effectively. Left uncorrected, they expose employees to the potential hazard of asphyxia, which can be fatal,” Jerome said.
The employee, who was never identified, died at Ellis Hospital Aug. 27 after being overwhelmed by toxic fumes in a truck at the company’s headquarters. A second employee tried to help the first man, was also overcome, but survived.
Schenectady firefighters pulled the two men unconscious from the back of a tank truck. Both men were taken in critical condition to Ellis Hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit.
Jerome said OSHA defines a willful violation as an action committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. He said OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
“One of the best means of preventing serious workplace hazards is to establish an effective safety and health management system through which management and employees work together to actively identify, analyze and eliminate work-related hazards,” said Jerome.
Precision Maintenance has 15 business days to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Albany Area Office.