Rail Car Services LLC is facing $133,000 in fines for 11 safety and health violations, including eight repeat, at its Kansas City rail car refurbishing facility, according to officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
An inspection began following a complaint about previously cited violations that resurfaced and involved fall protection and permit-required confined space hazards.
“Confined spaces can potentially contain hazardous atmospheres. In this case, the employer failed to implement all aspects of a confined space program, including training its workers,” said Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director in Wichita. “Rail Car Services failed to correct serious safety and health violations, exposing workers to falls and atmospheric hazards. Employers that provide certificates of abatement, and then are subsequently cited for repeat violations, demonstrate a lack of commitment to workplace safety and health.”
Rail Car Services refurbishes rail cars including hopper-style cars. The rail cars enter through top access doors and workers, once inside, perform sandblasting of walls, relining and general maintenance.
During the inspection, OSHA found the company inadequately addressed hazards cited in 2012, or the company did not completely abate the safety and health issues. As a result, eight repeat violations ended up cited. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously received a citation for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
The repeat violations involve failing to ensure fall protection systems covered areas where rail car work occurred and workers were vulnerable to fall exposure. OSHA’s investigation found the company installed a fall protection system, but it was inadequate to cover the number of workers exposed, and the company did not require usage of the present fall protection system. Rail Car Services also failed to train workers on chemicals used in their work area and did not provide annual respirator training.
Five of the repeat citations involve OSHA’s permit-required confined space program, including failing to evaluate work spaces, such as hopper cars, for confined space requirements and atmospheric conditions; inform exposed workers of the existence and location of confined spaces; use entry permits; and provide training to workers.
OSHA’s permit-required confined space standard establishes procedures to protect workers who must enter, work in or exit spaces with configurations that hinder their activities. In addition, the configurations of such spaces may increase workers’ exposure to hazards, such as entrapment, engulfment and/or hazardous atmospheric conditions, which can lead to serious physical injury, illness or death.
Two serious violations involve failing to evaluate workers medically for respirator usage and to prevent the use of compressed breathing air that was not of the proper grade. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.