Restaurant worker death in gas pipe explosion leads to OSHA fine
JJ's Bar and Grill, which does business as JJ's Restaurant in Kansas City, was cited for one safety violation in the incident in February this year.
The explosion and fire was caused by an uncontained natural gas leak released from an underground 2-inch natural gas transmission pipeline.
A crew from Heartland Midwest LLC, a communication utilities contracting company, were operating a horizontal directional drilling machine to lay a fiber-optic cable outside the restaurant when the boring tip of the drilling pipe breached the natural gas supply line.
JJ's Restaurant was in business for 30 years and employed 18 people at the time of the incident, in which no customers were injured. There is no indication as to whether the restaurant will be rebuilt.
OSHA conducted a catastrophe investigation of Heartland Midwest LLC as three of the company's workers were hospitalized for one or more days.
JJ's Bar and Grill was cited for one serious violation, with proposed penalties of $2,000, for having a deficient emergency action plan.
The plan did not designate and train workers to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation, or have a procedure to account for and protect workers following an evacuation due to an emergency, such as an explosion or fire.
"This explosion was a tragic event that stemmed from errors on behalf of Heartland Midwest,” said Marcia Drumm, acting regional administrator for OSHA in Kansas City.
“Companies, such as Heartland Midwest, have a responsibility to train employees about the hazards that exist on work sites.
“It is heartbreaking that a person was killed, and numerous employees were severely injured as a result of these violations."
Heartland Midwest LLC faces proposed penalties of $161,000 and has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.