OSHA Slaps $1.3 Million Fine on Mississippi Shipbuilder

Two workers died, two were injured in November 2009 explosion.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined VT Halter Marine Inc. $1,322,000 for a November 2009 explosion and fire that killed two workers and injured two more, the U.S. Department of Labor agency announced.

Following its investigation of the incident, which occurred in the inner bottom void of a tugboat being constructed at the companys Escatawpa, Miss., facility, OSHA cited the company for 17 alleged willful and 11 serious violations. Willful violations, according to OSHA, are committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the laws requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

OSHA said the willful violations were for failing to inspect and test the confined space prior to entry, to prevent entry into confined spaces where the concentration of flammable vapors exceeded the prescribed limits, and to use explosion-proof lighting in a hazardous location.

Serious violations included a lack of machine guarding, allowing the use of defective electrical equipment and failing to properly ventilate a confined space, OSHA said.

The Mississippi shipbuilder has 15 business days for the receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHAs area director, or contest the findings.

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