The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Tampa Electric Co. and Gaffin Industrial Services, Inc. after five employees were fatally injured, and one other suffered serious burns.
In June 2017, OSHA investigated the Big Bend River Station electrical power plant in Apollo Beach following the fatalities. Inspectors determined that the employees were burned when a blockage inside a coal-fired furnace broke free and spewed molten slag into the work area. Employees of Tampa Electric, Gaffin Industrial Services, and Brace Integrated Services, Inc. died in the incident.
OSHA cited Tampa Electric for failing to follow energy control procedures while performing maintenance on equipment. Gaffin Industrial Services was cited for failing to develop procedures to control hazardous energy. Tampa Electric and Gaffin were also cited for failing to provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard employees from burns. Proposed penalties for both companies totaled $160,972. Brace Integrated Services was not issued citations.
“This tragedy demonstrates what can happen when hazards are not properly controlled,” said OSHA Atlanta Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer. “Employers must develop and implement necessary procedures to prevent incidents such as this from occurring.”
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.