The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that moments before the blast, an air quality check indicated a serious risk of an explosion. OSHA says that despite the warning, Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services sent two employees into the railcar to work without monitoring the air continuously for explosive hazards as required, nor providing the employees with emergency retrieval equipment or properly fitted respirators.
The explosion blew 40-year-old Dallas Foulk off the top of the tanker. He died after being taken to Creighton University Medical Center in critical condition.
Omaha firefighters extricated 44-year-old Adrian LaPour six hours later.
OSHA investigated the April 14th explosion and has cited Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services for seven egregious willful, three willful, two repeated, 20 serious, and one other than serious safety and health violations. OSHA recommends a fine totaling $963,000.
Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services has also been placed on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Our hearts go out to the families of these workers, whose deaths were so senseless and preventable,” David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA said in a written statement released by OSHA. “This isn’t the first time this employer put its workers’ lives at risk – but OSHA will do everything in our power to ensure it is the last.”
According to OSHA, the company has failed to monitor air quality properly and hasn’t provided the property safety equipment for employees.
“This company has regularly failed to use appropriate equipment and procedures to keep their employees safe?, and in this case it had tragic consequences,” Jeff Funke, OSHA Area Director in Omaha, said in a written statement. “The company needs to immediately reevaluate its procedures for entering and cleaning railcars.”
The EPA is also investigating whether the company properly disposed of hazardous waste.
In addition, OSHA says it is investigating two whistleblower complaints filed since 2013.
Nebraska Railcar has 15 business days to reply to the citations and recommended fine.