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Company receives 14 OSHA citations after death of worker

Excavator loader with backhoe works

Rail car accidents can be deadly, especially when they involve oil or other hazardous petroleum products. McHenry worker comp lawyers can point to a recent Illinois case to illustrate some of the lethal dangers of working in or around rail cars without sufficient safety precautions.

A tragic case in 2014

In May 2014, an employee working for Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. in Illinois was found unconscious inside a rail car after he had been cleaning oil residue from the car. The employee suffered from cardiac arrhythmia and was known to be sensitive to toxic fumes and other environmental stressors. A sudden collapse while working in the enclosed space led to the tragic death of the worker after he was removed from the car.

OSHA finds serious failures in safety procedures

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration undertook a thorough investigation of the site and the events that took place on the day of the accident. The OSHA investigation found multiple failures to meet safety compliance rules that are familiar to McHenry worker comp lawyers, including all of the following major violations:


  • Failure to monitor confined spaces on a regular basis

  • Failure to provide sufficient breathing apparatus such as filters, respirators and other personal protective devices

  • Use of old and defective respirators with compromised functioning

  • Misuse of ventilation equipment in the rail car

  • Lack of designated and trained employees for emergency rescue

  • Poor maintenance of the company’s rescue equipment


OSHA found 14 serious violations of workplace safety in this single case. Seven of these violations were considered willful and intentional, involving blatant and voluntary disregard for employee health.

All employers have the obligation to follow safety procedures

According to the New York Times, 92,000 tank cars are currently used to move crude oil and other toxic petroleum products around America, leading to a disabling or even fatal workplace accident multiple times each year. The recent tragedy in Illinois underscores the responsibility of all employers to provide safety protection and follow proper procedures in every situation. The death of the employee at Environmental Remediation and Recovery Inc. could have been prevented if the company had paid attention to OSHA regulations. By pointing out these violations and levying severe fines on the employer, OSHA is drawing attention to the need for increased workplace safety.

McHenry worker comp lawyers are familiar with a wide range of cases involving rail transport and other high-risk activities. Victims of workplace accidents may find it useful to meet with a personal injury attorney.

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