An investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) determined that a Stavis Seafoods facilities manager, Brian Caron, died on the job on March 23 when he was fatally overcome by an ammonia leak caused by a burst pipe in the machine shop of the Boston fish and seafood wholesaler.
“The company’s failure to follow industry and OSHA standards exposed its employees to the hazards of an ammonia release as well as falls, electric shock, hazardous chemicals and delayed or obstructed exit from the facility during a leak or other emergency. It’s clear that Stavis Seafoods must take effective action to correct these hazards and prevent their recurrence so that no other employees are harmed on the job,” said James Mulligan, OSHA’s acting area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts.
OSHA’s inspection identified several other conditions that exposed employees to the hazards of:
• Falls due to insufficiently guarded door openings, lack of roof guardrails, defective ladders and an unmarked door leading to a 17-foot drop.
• Impeded or blocked exit routes stemming from inadequately stored equipment and sheets of plywood and building materials and equipment stored near the exit door.
• An incomplete inventory of hazardous chemicals used in the workplace, unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals and not providing adequate chemical hazard communication training to employees.
• Several electrical hazards, including improper use of electrical wiring and equipment, and the use of extension cords in place of permanent wiring.
As a result of the investigation, OSHA cited Stavis Seafoods for 20 serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. Proposed fines total $173,168. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
In a statement, Stavis Seafoods said it is cooperating fully with OSHA’s investigation, has closed the impacted plant, hired a third-party safety and compliance consultant, and is working with OSHA to ensure all facilities and equipment meet or exceed safety standards.