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US Department of Labor investigation cites Red Barn Truck Wash after three workers injured, one fatally, from exposure to harmful gases

Joe Denoyer - March 8, 2024 3:48 pm

Company failed to conduct atmospheric testing before workers cleaned trailers

LIBERAL, KS – Federal investigators determined a Liberal truck washing company failed to protect workers from hydrogen sulfide gas as they entered over-the-road tanker trailers to clean them out, causing one worker’s fatal injuries and hospitalizing two co-workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration responded to a report of the Sept. 1, 2023, incident and found Red Barn Truck Wash & Service Center LLC failed to evaluate the tanker trailers for hazardous conditions – including testing the atmosphere – and did not train workers on potential hazards before letting them enter the confined spaces, both violations of OSHA regulations.

“Wherever organic matter such as crops and other materials are stored, hydrogen sulfide may be present as a natural byproduct. Workers must never enter storage facilities, tankers or other confined spaces without doing atmospheric testing and wearing protective equipment such as respirators capable of preventing inhalation of this colorless and toxic gas,” explained OSHA Area Director Todd Underwood in Wichita, Kansas. “Red Barn Truck Wash & Service Center must implement procedures and training immediately to protect its employees from these preventable injuries.”

Inspectors found multiple violations of OSHA’s confined space regulations and noted Red Barn Truck Wash lacked both respiratory and hearing protection programs and exposed workers to fall hazards of up to nine feet while cleaning the trailers.

OSHA cited the company for two willful and 24 serious violations and proposed $171,680 in penalties.

OSHA provides information on confined space, hearing conservation and respiratory protection for use by employers to understand how to protect workers from these hazards.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and 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.

 

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