Dredge & Marine faces OSHA citations in dredge pontoon fire case

Written by Nick Blenkey

dmclogoThe U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Millersville-headquartered Dredge & Marine Co. LLC for 12 safety and health violations. OSHA opened an inspection following a July incident in which one worker died and another was severely burned when a spark from a light ignited paint vapors inside the compartment of a pontoon dredge, which was being painted to reduce corrosion.

OSHA says that two serious safety violations related to the fatality include exposing employees to explosion and fire hazards when exhaust ventilation was inadequate and failing to use explosion-proof lighting. Five additional serious safety violations are for using an extension cord with a missing ground prong; exposing employees to explosion and fire hazards from a nonexplosion proof fan with nonferrous blades; failing to ensure paint buckets, spray guns and cell phones were properly stored to prevent sparking; failing to permit the bonding of spray guns and metallic parts; and failing to provide fall protection to employees working from the barge deck.

Five serious health violations are for exposing employees to a potentially hazardous atmosphere inside a confined space without first testing the atmosphere’s oxygen content, exposing workers to hazards in a confined space who did not receive training on how to perform all required duties safely, exposing employees to hazardous atmospheres in a confined space without providing a qualified shipyard rescue team or notifying an outside rescue service, failing to stop work to verify the confined space was safe for entry after spray painting and failing to continuously monitor the enclosed space to ensure the atmosphere was safe. A serious violation occurs 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.

“Tragic incidents can be avoided by following OSHA’s standards and safety requirements,” said William Cochran, OSHA’s area director in Nashville. “It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that workers are trained and provided with appropriate equipment so they can perform their duties safely.”

Dredge & Marine Co. LLC, which is owned by John W. McDougall Co., specializes in new dredges, reconditioning used dredges, equipment and parts sales, and brokerage services.

Proposed penalties for the citations total $46,600. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the agency’s findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

January 3, 2011

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