Tuesday, March 16, 2004

What a Surprise: Company Fights Citation for Killing Workers

Someday, after a worker is killed and OSHA has issud its citation, I'd like to hear the President of the cited company say something like this:
"We're sorry. We really screwed up. We were trying to save a few bucks, get the job done a bit faster and cheaper and ended killing someone. We'll never forgive ourselves and we accept whatever sanctions we receive, knowing that no matter how high the fine, it won't begin to atone for the sins we've committed and the pain we've caused to the victims family, friends and co-workers.
Dream on.

Instead, when a company kills one of its workers, we typically get denials and protestations that "We did nothing wrong. We have an excellent safety program." Translation: The dumb worker screwed up and got what he deserved.

Today's version is from the Coors Brewing Company.and a contractor who together were fined over $140,000 for the deaths of Keith A. Dean, 44, of Grottoes, and Frank Domzalski, 45, who were killed in an explosion September 9, 2003, when a tank they were welding on exploded.

Virginia OSHA said that
Coors and maintenance contractor E.A. Breeden Inc. improperly allowed welding on a storage tank containing organic sludge and its combustible byproduct, methane gas....At the time of the blast, the two were welding on a 440,000-gallon sludge tank at Coors' waste-water treatment complex.
Coors had issued a "hot work permit" to Breeden before the workers started welding that certified that there were no combustible fibers, dusts, vapors, gases or liquids in the tank "even though both companies knew that the organic sludge in the tank and methane gas by-product had not been removed from the sludge tank."

Coors's response:
Coors denied wrongdoing.

"Coors is committed to workplace safety and believes that the citations are erroneous. We intend to vigorously contest them with Virginia [occupational-safety law]," the company said in a statement.