Oregon OSHA fines Portland company after workers rendered unconscious in stormwater sewer

(UI) — The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) has fined a Portland environmental and emergency services company $118,800 for breaching job safety standards aimed at safeguarding workers in confined spaces.

River City Environmental Inc. was cited following an inspection prompted by an incident reported to Portland Fire & Rescue. The inspection revealed violations in connection with an incident on July 14, 2023, where two workers lost consciousness due to atmospheric conditions within a stormwater sewer system at a local brewing company.

The company was found to have violated several safety regulations, including failure to ensure proper supervision for confined space work, inadequate identification of atmospheric and physical hazards, and lack of appropriate equipment and procedures for employees entering confined spaces.

Oregon OSHA Administrator Renée Stapleton emphasized the importance of stringent safety measures in confined space work, stating, "Confined space work does not allow for carelessness. Employers must anticipate the risks, focus on thoroughness, and ensure that they protect their employees who enter confined spaces."

Employers cited by Oregon OSHA have 30 days to file an appeal after receiving a citation.

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