OSHA Cites East Boston Painting Contractor After Worker Suffers from Paint Fumes in Confined Space

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently investigated a workplace accident in which an East Boston, Massachusetts, painting contractor´s employee suffered from paint fumes in a confined space while working at a job at the Senesco Marine LLC shipyard in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The employee was spray-painting the interior of a tugboat and subsequently became unconscious in the confined space. The worker was rescued by the North Kingstown Fire Department.

The company, AMEX Inc., now faces $72,900 in proposed fines and was cited for 13 alleged violations of workplace and confined space safety violations. Working in a confined or enclosed space can result in a greater risk of fatalities, severe injuries, illnesses, and fume inhalation, such as the case here. During their investigation, OSHA found that AMEX did not abide by the required safety precautions for working in a confined space. The company did not properly check for hazardous conditions inside the confined space, did not test the atmosphere for toxic or flammable vapors before the worker entered, and did not provide confined space training for employees working in the space. The contractor also failed to supply the workers with sufficient respiratory protection or safe ventilation equipment.

Twelve of the violations were listed as serious and one was an other-than-serious violation due to an incomplete worker injury log. OSHA issues a serious violation 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. An other-than-serious violation is issued when the violation has an impact on workplace safety and health, but would most likely not result in death or serious physical harm, such as a serious violation.

OSHA´s area director, Patrick Griffin, said “This could very easily have been a fatality…Confined spaces are characterized by toxic, oxygen-deficient or flammable atmospheres that can be deadly for employees working in those spaces. No worker should ever enter a confined space until the atmosphere has been tested, proper respiratory protection is supplied and used, and adequate rescue procedures are in place.”

AMEX Inc. has 15 business days from the day that they received these citations and proposed monetary fines to agree with, or contest, these workplace safety violations with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer.


US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes $72,900 in fines for East Boston, Mass., painting contractor for violations at North Kingstown, RI, shipyard, OSHA Regional News Release, December 1, 2011
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