Texas Company Fined $294K After Deaths of Welders

July 10, 2003

Kiewit Offshore Services Ltd., has reportedly agreed to pay $294,000 in penalties related to citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the company’s reported failure to implement standards in a Texas facility that protect workers against welding hazards while working in a confined space.

A pair of workers, one employed by Kiewit and the other employed by subcontractor R.B.T. Welders Inc., died in a January accident at the company’s Ingleside facility.

According to John Giefer, OSHA’s area director in Corpus Christi, OSHA
investigated the Jan. 6 fatalities of two welders, one employed by Kiewit and the other employed by R.B.T. Welders, at Kiewit’s Ingleside, Texas, facility. The welders were reportedly fabricating steel highway bridge footings for barge transport to a new San Francisco Bay bridge. The pair were killed when accumulated fuel gas ignited in the confined space where they were working.

The company was cited for 10 safety and health violations for reportedly failing to implement elements of the “permit required confined space” standard; failing to remove welding fuel gas hoses during downtime; not using adequate ventilation for welding operations performed in a permit space; and failing to use electrical equipment according to instructions. The “permit required confined space” standard must be followed when work is performed within a confined space, such as a bridge compartment footing. The standard calls for testing the air in a confined space, coordination of entry with multiple employers, permit use, rescue provisions, and training of workers on the potential hazards prior to assigned duties.

Kiewit, a subsidiary of Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc. in Omaha, Neb., employs
approximately 200 workers at the Ingleside, Texas, facility. Nationwide the parent company employs about 900 workers.

R.B.T. Welders Inc. of Raceland, La., was a subcontractor at the Ingleside, Texas, facility and has been reportedly cited with 20 serious safety violations and fined $106,200.

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