Federal officials have cited three employers for workplace safety hazards after a worker suffered injuries at Northwestern University’s campus in Evanston, Ill.
Northwestern University, Hill Mechanical Corp. and National Heat & Power Corp. collectively face a total of $235,962 in proposed penalties for exposing workers to permit-required confined space hazards associated with underground steam vaults, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA received an employer-reported referral from Hill Mechanical Corp. after an employee suffered burns from a release of steam while working in a steam vault at Northwestern’s Evanston Campus.
Northwestern University had contracted Hill Mechanical Corp. to make needed steam repairs but neither company implemented adequate permit-required confined space safety measures, OSHA’s investigation found.
OSHA cited Northwestern University for failing to provide required information to contractors and coordinate activities, identify and evaluate high-pressure steam as a hazard, isolate steam energy, perform air monitoring, provide required signage, complete entry permits, evaluate their confined space hazard program and ensure the ability to rescue employees from a confined space. The university faces penalties of $105,835 for nine serious violations.
OSHA also cited Hill Mechanical Corp. for failing to obtain information from the host employer and coordinate activities, identify and evaluate hazards of the space, isolate steam energy, perform air monitoring, complete entry permits, provide required confined space training and ensure the ability to rescue employees from a confined space. The company faces penalties of $105,835 for nine serious violations.
National Heat & Power Corp. – the contractor brought in to complete the repairs – faces penalties of $24,292 for four serious violations involving failing to obtain information from the host employer, adequately isolate steam energy, provide required confined space training and complete entry permits.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the 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.
This article was first published by Insurance Journal.