Double Fatality in Wastewater Tank Leads to Fines

The Occupational Safety and Health Association cited North East Linen for multiple alleged safety and health violations after a double fatality at the company's Linden, N.J., facility. The agency initiated its investigation on Dec. 1, 2007, following the fatal incident. Two employees, who were cleaning a wastewater tank, were discovered at the bottom of the tank, which was oxygen-deficient and contained hazardous chemicals. The investigation resulted in one willful, 12 serious, and two other-than-serious violations with fines totaling $79,250.

"North East Linen did not take the appropriate steps to train its employees about potential hazards and to ensure its employees did not enter the wastewater tank, which led to this tragedy," says Robert D. Kulick, director of OSHA's Avenel, N.J., area office.

The company was cited for a willful violation for failing to provide hazard communication training. The serious citations included failure to provide adequate means of egress; to take effective measures to prevent employees from entering the waste water tank; to lock out, or prevent accidental start-up of, equipment; to determine the presence and quantity of asbestos-containing material and not labeling the material; to close unused openings on an electrical panel; and to provide other necessary training.

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