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A photograph of tank cars parked in a rail yard.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited TrinityRail and Maintenance Services over an August 2020 incident that resulted in two fatalities.

OSHA is suggesting $419,347 in penalties, and it cited Trinity for 11 serious violations and two willful violations for not following federal safety standards for working in confined spaces. 

On Aug. 12, a Trinity employee in Hugo, Oklahoma, was seeking to clean a tank car used to carry natural gasoline, according to OSHA. A second employee also entered the railcar, seeking to rescue the first employee. Both workers were eventually recovered and pronounced dead at a local hospital after inhaling toxic fumes. 

OSHA said the company failed to require a permit to allow entry into the railcar, ventilate the space, monitor hazards inside a confined space and complete entry permits for work inside a confined space.

“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. “As is the case here, failing to follow OSHA standards can be the difference between life and death.”

Dallas-based Trinity has 15 business days from receipt of citation and penalties to comply, and it can request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings.

Trinity told FreightWaves that it disagrees with OSHA’s findings.

“We are aware of the findings released by OSHA regarding the fatality incident at our TrinityRail Maintenance Services facility in Hugo, Oklahoma,” said Trinity spokesman Jack Todd. “The company has been working cooperatively with OSHA during its investigation process, however, we respectfully disagree with the proposed findings and penalties that OSHA has issued.” 

He continued, “We look forward to addressing the proposed findings and penalties through the agency’s formal process. Trinity is committed to safety at all of our facilities, and we are deeply saddened by the loss of our co-workers.”

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