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OSHA fines employers for violations in worker death case

Employers in Oregon are required to adhere to regulations created and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and there may be high prices to pay when regulations are ignored. An industrial contractor and a petroleum refining company have been ordered to pay fines of $106,080 after an employee died while working in an enclosed space. The employer was in violation of OSHA regulations because it did not secure a confined space in which work was being performed.

The employee asphyxiated while working in the confined space. According to an OSHA area director, the industrial contractor should not have allowed any employees to enter the space before conducting an evaluation of the risks or making sure safety requirements were met. Among the most egregious oversights was that workers outside of the confined space were incapable of conducting rescue efforts. OSHA also cited the industrial contractor for letting the worker go into the area without sufficient lighting and for assigning rescue team members to other duties.

The petroleum refining company in the case failed to identify the hazards in the confined workspace and failed to document the steps to ensure the safety of employees. The parties that OSHA fined have a period of 15 business days during which to respond to the penalties by either paying them, scheduling a conference with the area director or filing a contest with OSHA.

When workers are injured because of OSHA violations on the job, an attorney may be able to help the injured parties secure compensation for injuries. An attorney might help by gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to build a case or by drafting and filing a complaint for damages. An attorney may be able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with at-fault parties. In cases that cannot be settled, he or she might argue on the client's behalf during official hearings.

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