CAUTIONARY TALE EPISODE 59 NO CONFINED SPACE CANARY « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Four Companies Cited $1.75 Million for Worker’s Suffocation Death

On  investigating a worker’s death at Valero Refinery of Benicia, Cal/OSHA cited the refinery and three contractors $1,753,375 for willful and serious safety violations.  Serious violations are hazards posing “a realistic possibility . . . of death or serious physical harm.” Willful violations are failures to “remediate a known hazard” or knowing violations of the law.

The agency found that lack of oxygen in an enclosure caused a worker sent in for cleaning to lose consciousness and succumb in spite of revival efforts.  It concluded an argon gas-leaking welding torch left in the space caused the fatal oxygen deficiency.

Cal/OSHA Chief Jeff Killip stated: “Working in confined spaces is extremely dangerous, as is working with argon. The employers involved had a responsibility to keep their workers safe. The first step to preventing a completely avoidable fatality is to identify hazards before a worker enters a confined space.”  Confined spaces include such places as “tanks, silos, pipelines, sewers, storage bins, drain tunnels and vaults,” or any with similar conditions.

Cal/OSHA’s confined space guide provides information on types of accidents and guidance on how to provide educated employees and safe confined workspaces.

Take-Away: Safety is a key duty of employers, especially when putting their employees into dangerous conditions.  “Safety first” is not just a catchy phrase, but something all employers must ensure.

For further information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

See also:

Helena Kobrin
May 27, 2022

Contact Us

If you are an employer facing possible litigation, or have an employee issue on which you need immediate guidance, call us to set up a consultation, or submit your message.

NOTE: Use of this website does not make one a client of the Law Offices of Timothy Bowles (“Firm” or “Bowles Law”). Establishing an attorney-client relationship and the confidentiality that comes with it depends on the Firm’s prior confirmation that no factor, including any conflict of interest (for example, our representation of another party adverse to you), exists to prevent that establishment. If you have confidential information that you would like to provide a Bowles Law attorney, please communicate directly to one of our attorneys, in person, by telephone, email, fax or other written means. Do not use this website to offer or communicate confidential information about any legal matter.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.