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OSHA Cites Contractor Following Employee's Death from Exposure to High-Pressure Water Jet Cutting Streams

A fatal accident in June at a job site in Idaho has resulted in citations and fines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration against a Colorado company for failure to protect workers from the hazards of powerful liquid cutting streams.

OSHA issued a willful and a serious citation to a Denver contractor with $63,000 in proposed penalties, for alleged safety violations at a job in Soda Springs, Idaho.

In June 2001 the employee was killed when a hose coupling on a high-pressure liquid cutter failed, and he was injected in the abdomen with a water stream. The alleged willful citation stated that power operated tools were not equipped with guards to protect operators and other employees from hazards created by exposure to liquid cutting streams.

"Workers were exposed to cutting streams of approximately 36,000 pounds per square inch while cutting and removing the rubber lining of a phosphoric acid tank," said the OSHA area director for the agency's Boise office, which conducted the investigation.

Alleged serious violations included:

  • failure to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards in that employees were exposed to ultra high pressure water jet cutting streams;
  • lack of an accident prevention program;
  • use of machinery, tools, material and equipment that did not comply with applicable safety regulations;
  • lack of employee safety training;
  • inadequate personal protective equipment for workers;
  • failure to provide a written respiratory protection program or suitable in-line air-purifying sorbent beds and filters; and
  • use of oil-lubricated compressors to supply breathing air that were not equipped with alarms to monitor carbon monoxide levels.

The company has 15 working days to contest the citations.

Source: OSHA Region 10 News Release: #01-199, Dec. 11, 2001
Contact: Jeannine Lupton, Phone: 206-553-7620


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