OSHA Cites Tank Cleaning Company Again for Safety Issues Leading to a Fatality

The company faces $810,703 in penalties for its violations.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

July 9, 2024

2 Min Read
Tank cleaning company disregards safety violations second time, leading to another fatality.
Four years ago, two employees were killed while attempting to clean a tank, and the same violations occurred for a second time.OSHA

A La Porte, TX, tank cleaning company again disregarded federal safety standards that may have protected its employees from hazardous working conditions and prevented another employee from suffering a fatal injury.

On December 23, 2023, the wife and son of an employee at the company grew concerned when he didn't return after his shift. Later that day, he was found unresponsive.

A workplace safety investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the fallen worker's employer, Qualawash Holdings LLC – operating as Quala Services – failed to ensure that atmospheric testing was done inside the tank before allowing the employee to enter it. The agency cited the company, whose employees clean tankers used to transport hazardous wastes, for eight repeat violations.

OSHA cited Quala Services for the same violations in June 2020 after two workers succumbed while cleaning inside a tanker truck in November 2019.

"Had Quala Services acted responsibly and made the safety reforms as required in 2020, another employee would not have lost their life," said OSHA Area Director Larissa Ipsen in Houston. "This employer's complete disregard for its employees' safety is unacceptable. Complying with safety and health standards is not optional. OSHA will use all of its tools to ensure employers follow the law."

In addition to the company's failure to conduct required testing, OSHA cited Quala Services for seven serious violations including the following:

  • Failing to implement measures to prevent unauthorized entry into a permit-required confined space.

  • Not providing an attendant while employees entered permit-required confined spaces.

  • Numerous failures related to the confined space entry permit, including:

  • Not identifying the authorized duration of entry.

  • Which rescue and emergency services to be summoned.

  • How to summon emergency services.

  • Failing to specify personal protective, rescue and communications equipment and alarm systems.

  • Overexposing employees to carbon monoxide.

  • Not protecting conductors that entered an electrical panel box from abrasions and leaving an electrical outlet without a cover plate.

Qualawash Holdings faces $810,703 in proposed penalties for its violations.

The company cleans tanker trailers used to transport hazardous waste and has more than 1,400 employees.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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