HUGO, OK – A U.S. Department of Labor workplace safety investigation has found a Hugo rail car products and services provider did not follow federal safety standards for working in confined spaces after two workers died from inhaling toxic fumes.

The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that an employee of Trinity Rail and Maintenance Services Inc. became unresponsive after entering a natural gasoline rail car with the intent of cleaning the space on Aug. 12, 2020. A second employee entered the rail car and was also overcome after attempting to rescue the fallen worker. Both workers were eventually recovered and later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

OSHA found that the company failed to require a permit to allow entry into the rail car, ventilate the space, monitor hazards inside a confined space and complete entry permits for work inside a confined space, as required. OSHA cited the company for 11 serious violations and two willful violations, and has proposed $419,347 in penalties.

“Work inside confined spaces is a dangerous job and federal workplace safety standards must be followed to avoid disaster,” said OSHA Area Director Steven A. Kirby, in Oklahoma City. “As is the case here, failing to follow OSHA standards can be the difference between life and death.”

Based in Dallas, Trinity Rail and Maintenance Service Inc. is one of the nation’s largest rail car servicing and maintenance providers with facilities in Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. It is a subsidiary of Trinity Rail, which leases and services an owned and managed fleet of more than 125,000 rail cars.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of citation 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.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. Learn more about OSHA.


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