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OSHA fines tanker cleaning company $810K after three worker deaths in four years

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A Texas tanker cleaning company was been cited for numerous safety violations after multiple workers were killed on the job over the past few years.

On July 8, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that Houston-area Quala Services LLC was issued numerous citations and faces $810,703 in penalties.

Quala Services cleans tankers used to transport hazardous materials.

“A La Porte tank cleaning company again chose to disregard federal safety standards that may have protected their employees from hazardous working conditions and prevented another employee from suffering a fatal injury,” OSHA stated.

According to OSHA, two days before Christmas 2023, a worker’s wife and son reported that the worker did not return home from his shift. The worker was found unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.

OSHA said that Quala Services “failed to ensure that atmospheric testing was done inside the tank before allowing the 53-year-old employee to enter it” and cited the company for eight repeat violations.

In November 2019, two of the company’s workers died while cleaning inside a tanker truck. Following this incident, the company was reportedly cited by OSHA for the same violations as those discovered following the December 2023 incident.

Violations the company was cited for include:

  • Failing to implement measures to prevent unauthorized entry into a permit-required confined space.
  • Not providing an attendant while employees entered permit-required confined spaces.
  • Numerous failures related to the confined space entry permit, including:
    • Not identifying the authorized duration of entry.
    • Which rescue and emergency services to be summoned.
    • How to summon emergency services.
    • Failing to specify personal protective, rescue and communications equipment and alarm systems.
  • Overexposing employees to carbon monoxide.
  • Not protecting conductors that entered an electrical panel box from abrasions and leaving an electrical outlet without a cover plate.

“Had Quala Services acted responsibly and made the safety reforms as required in 2020, another employee would not have lost their life,” said OSHA Area Director Larissa Ipsen in Houston. “This employer’s complete disregard for its employees’ safety is unacceptable. Complying with safety and health standards is not optional. OSHA will use all of its tools to ensure employers follow the law

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