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Rail Car Services faces OSHA penalties of $133,000 for repeat safety, health violations at train car facility in Kansas City, Kan.

(Source: U.S. Department of Labor press release, December 9, 2013)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. Rail Car Services LLC has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 11 safety and health violations, including eight repeat, at its Kansas City rail car refurbishing facility. An inspection began following a complaint about previously cited violations that resurfaced and involved fall protection and permit-required confined space hazards. OSHA has proposed penalties of $133,000.

"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 Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita. "Rail Car Services failed to correct serious safety and health violations, exposing workers to falls and atmospheric hazards. Employers that provide certificates of abatement, and then are subsequently cited for repeat violations, demonstrate a lack of commitment to workplace safety and health."

Rail Car Services refurbishes rail cars including hopper-style cars. The rail cars are entered through top access doors and workers, once inside, perform sandblasting of walls, relining and general maintenance.

During the inspection, OSHA found that hazards cited in 2012 were inadequately addressed, or the company did not completely abate the safety and health issues. As a result, eight repeat violations were cited. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

The repeat violations involve failing to ensure fall protection systems covered areas where rail car work was conducted and workers were vulnerable to fall exposure. OSHA's investigation found a fall protection system had been installed, but was inadequate to cover the number of workers exposed, and the company did not require usage of the present fall protection system. Rail Car Services also failed to train workers on chemicals used in their work area and did not provide annual respirator training.

Five of the repeat citations involve OSHA's permit-required confined space program, including failing to evaluate work spaces, such as hopper cars, for confined space requirements and atmospheric conditions; inform exposed workers of the existence and location of confined spaces; use entry permits; and provide training to workers.

OSHA's permit-required confined space standard establishes procedures to protect workers who must enter, work in or exit spaces with configurations that hinder their activities. In addition, the configurations of such spaces may increase workers' exposure to hazards, such as entrapment, engulfment and/or hazardous atmospheric conditions, which can lead to serious physical injury, illness or death. For more information see https://www.osha.gov/doc/outreachtraining/htmlfiles/cspace.html.

Two serious violations involve failing to evaluate workers medically for respirator usage and to prevent the use of compressed breathing air that was not of the proper grade. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.

The citations can be viewed at
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Rail_Car_910605_1204_13.pdf*
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Rail_Car_910602_1204_13.pdf*

Rail Car Services has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Wichita Area Office at 316-269-6644.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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