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OSHA Cites Texas Barge Company Following Workers' Deaths

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has cited a Texas barge company for 40 safety violations related to a flash fire earlier this year.

In April, two Texas Barge & Boat Inc. employees were working on a barge in a dry dock in Freeport. The men were inside the hopper space (the area between the bottom of the barge and the cargo hold) performing cutting work when the sparks ignited fumes, causing a flash fire. Both men died in the workplace incident.

Following the fire, OSHA launched an investigation into the barge company. Last week OSHA published their report, finding 39 serious safety violations and one willful safety violation.

The willful violation was related directly to the fire, the company was fined almost $55,000 for not conducting an air monitoring test before the workers entered the hopper space. An OSHA official noted that the accident might have been preventable had the company followed proper safety standards.

The company was fined another $165,000 for the remaining 39 violations -- bringing the total to $220,000. Texas Barge & Boat has 15 days to take measures to correct the violations or to contest the citations.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "OSHA cites barge company in death of two workers," 9/28/11.

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