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North Dakota Trucking Operation Cited by OSHA Following Worker Death

June 24, 2013

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Plains Trucking, Ross, N.D.. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for nine safety violations after a worker was fatally injured March 27 while cleaning the inside of a crude oil tanker that exploded at the company's facility in Ross.

The incident occurred when another worker lowered a treble light, not approved for use in such conditions, into the tanker. The second worker suffered a concussion and a head laceration.

One willful safety violation involves failing to develop and implement a confined space entry program. A willful violation is defined as one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Eight serious safety violations were cited, including:

  • failing to evaluate the need for personal protective equipment;
  • lack of machine guarding on pulleys and belts;
  • failing to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program;
  • use of electrical lighting not approved for a hazardous location; 
  • failing to compile a list of chemicals, such as crude oil, which was in use, and provide workers training on those chemical hazards and precautions.

A serious violation is defined as when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA has placed Plains Trucking in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA's SVEP focuses on employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

Proposed fines total $28,000. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Plains Trucking is a small operation, with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records showing it has just four power units.

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