OSHA Cites Energy Services For Confined Space Hazards

                               Houston, TX (WorkersCompensation.com) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Vann Energy Services LLC for 17 serious violations following a safety and health inspection at the company's maintenance facility on East Avenue in Nixon. Proposed penalties total $70,200.

OSHA began its inspection on Aug. 19, 2011, after receiving a complaint about employees who were required to enter oil field hydraulic fracturing tanks for cleaning without receiving precautions about confined space atmospheric hazards. Vann Energy provides trucking and oil field support services, including cleaning fracturing tanks, at the Nixon location.

Serious health violations include failing to implement a permit-required confined space entry program; provide proper respiratory protection; provide personal protective equipment, such as chemical-impervious gloves and footwear; and provide first-aid services and chemical hazard training. Serious safety violations include failing to provide approved electrical systems for lighting at night; ensure electrical equipment, such as fans, were approved for hazardous locations; provide covers over open pits; and maintain electrical conductors and cords in a safe operating condition. A serious violation occurs 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.

"Vann Energy Services required workers to enter a fracturing tank for cleaning without testing the atmospheric hazards first and without training the workers on confined space hazards," said Casey Perkins, director of OSHA's Austin Area Office. "Confined space and electrical hazards like the ones found at this site can kill workers. It is fortunate these hazards were identified before anyone was seriously injured."

OSHA requirements for a permit-required confined space entry program include air monitoring, ventilating the space, eliminating hazardous energy, assigning an entry attendant to communicate with workers in the space, ensuring rescue services are ready and documenting all of these provisions on an entry permit. More information on confined spaces can be found on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/confinedspaces/index.html.

Vann Energy employs about 20 workers at the Nixon facility. The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Austin, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Employers and employees with questions about workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Austin office at 512-374-0271 or the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) to report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

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