Worker Asphyxiates in Tanker Trailer

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: November 7th, 2013
Topics: Confined Spaces | OSHA Inspections | Safety Training |

tank trailier,worker fatality,osha citation


herman Brothers Trucking Inc. of Arkansas, doing business as Team Transport Inc., has been cited by OSHA for 11 safety and health violations, including one willful, for deficiencies of its permit-required confined space program and other workplace hazards at its Crossett facility. An inspection began in April after a temporary worker, who was cleaning the inside of a tanker trailer without proper training, was found unconscious and later died from an oxygen-deficient atmosphere. Proposed penalties total $113,400.

“Confined spaces can potentially contain hazardous atmospheres. In this case, the employer failed to implement all aspects of a confined space program, including training its workers,” said Carlos Reynolds, OSHA’s area director in Little Rock. “This lack of regard for worker safety is unacceptable and led to a loss of life.”

A willful violation was cited for failing to maintain air monitoring equipment and evaluate permit-required confined space conditions prior to entry. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The seven serious violations cited included failing to do the following:

  • Guard open floor holes to prevent falling into the next level;
  • Stabilize a platform used to access a tanker cleaning area with railings or posts to prevent fall hazards;
  • Train workers on confined spaces;
  • Train workers on associated occupational hazards;
  • Implement respirator,
  • Confined space, and
  • Hazard communications programs.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The three other-than-serious violations involve the availability of confined space training certifications and ensuring drums and totes containing chemicals were properly labeled with identity and hazard warnings. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.