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Fatal Explosion in Pennsylvania Leads to OSHA Investigation

Depending on the job, workplace injuries can be severe and sometimes even fatal. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates employers to ensure that work environments are safe and up to health standards. Failure to comply with OSHA regulations can result in violations and citations.

In a recent news release, OSHA issued citations to two Pennsylvania companies after a fatal workplace accident. The two companies, Northeast Energy and Huntley & Huntley, are in the oil business, drill site preparation and development of gas wells. There had been an explosion at a well site in the middle of last year.

OSHA began its investigation to determine whether any safety or health violations caused the explosion. There had been reports of a leaking tank that may have contributed to the explosion.

According to the OSHA investigation, neither company made sure that employees were welding according to safety standards. Employers are supposed to make sure that the tanks employees are welding are free of any flammable materials. If the tanks are not completely clean, there is a danger that the hazardous materials could explode. Employers are also responsible for ensuring that employees are properly trained and educated in how to safely use welding equipment.

Both companies received citations from OSHA. One of the more serious citations was issued to Northeast for not giving employees the proper equipment or training to protect from hazardous materials. This type of violation can and did result in the deaths of the company's workers.

Both Northeast Energy and Huntley & Huntley will have to pay heavy fines. There is no information as to whether either of the companies will contest any of OSHA's findings.

Source: OSHA.gov, "US Labor Department's OSHA fines western Pennsylvania companies for exposing workers to flammable materials following double fatality," 11 January 2011

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