RPI Fined $845,100 for Five Worker Deaths

With the six-month deadline approaching for issuing citations and monetary penalties, OSHA announced today 13 willful and 25 serious violations against RPI Coatings, the employer of five workers who died in early October at the Excel Energy Cabin Creek Station hydroelectric plant near Georgetown, Colorado.  The penalty amount proposed by OSHA against RPI Coatings is $845,100.

The deceased workers were part of a contract maintenance crew who were applying a specialized epoxy coating onto the inside of a 3,000 foot-long (and 4 foot-wide) pipe.  A fire erupted inside the pipe, starving the atmosphere of oxygen.  The five men were Anthony Aguirre, 18, Donald Dejaynes, 43, Gary Foster, 48, Dupree Holt, 37 and James St. Peters, 52 (previous post here).

At the time of the disaster, an official with RPI said:

“We’ve done a lot of projects like this one and never had trouble before. These men were very experienced people…These men all were wearing breathing apparatus. We don’t know what created the fire. Usually all of the equipment we use is explosion-proof that shouldn’t cause sparks. The epoxy coating being applied does not present a lot of danger under normal circumstances.” (previous post here)

Clearly, something went terrible wrong or this official didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.  OSHA’s investigators found evidence to support the following: 

  • electrical equipment was brought into the tunnel that was not safe because it could ignite a solvent-based cleaner being used in the tunnel
  • unsafe handling of flammable liquids
  • failure to provide employees with adequate ventilation
  • failure to install carbon monoxide alarms
  • failure to arrange for emergency response in the event of an accident
  • failure to train on worksite chemical hazards
  • lack of fire extinguishers in the work area, and
  • improper respiratory protection.

RPI Coatings has 15 work days to request an informal conference with OSHA’s Area Director to discuss the citations and penalties.  There are no rights however for family members of the deceased men, or current employees of RPI to participate in this informal conference should the employer request it.

The Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant is controlled by the Public Service Co. of Colorado, a subsidiary of Excel Energy (NYSE: XEL).  Excel was assessed two willful and 19 serious violations, with proposed penalties of $189,900.

In the news release announcing the citations and penalties, OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor stated:

“This catastrophe could have been avoided if the companies had followed their critical safety procedures.  There should never be such a disregard for the safety of employees.”

Amen.

His quote continues:

“Today’s citations should serve as a reminder to all employers about the critical need to always provide a safe and healthful workplace for their employees.”

I really hope it is not the citations that serve as a reminder, but rather, that Anthony Aguirre, 18, Donald Dejaynes, 43, Gary Foster, 48, Dupree Holt, 37 and James St. Peters died before their time, and this disaster was completely preventable. 

Comments

  1. #1 Toxic Reverend
    March 28, 2008

    Fined over $800,000 and how many criminal charges ?

    I have been told that”Iif all you have for a tool is a hammer,
    every problem can look like a nail”.

    Well, it is that or a deck with all of the nails are popping
    up from faulty work and or materials.

    Another way ask one simple question. Why is there such an
    absence of criminal charges such as “reckless homicide” against
    corporations and the company officials that “fail in their duty
    to rescue” ?

    In some States (such as California), ithe “Failure In A Duty To Rescue”
    is a criminal charge with a one year jail sentence.

    In reference, article titled;
    A PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING THE
    LEGAL BASIS OF THE NO DUTY TO RESCUE RULE
    [A],
    Magazine: BYU JOURNAL OF PUBLIC LAW; 2000 Posted at:>
    http://www.angelfire.com/nm/redcollarcrime/d2resc.html

    Like my “No More Red Collar Crime” (rough draft report)
    documents, only a very few corporations have been convicted
    of reckless homicide. And it is not very often a criminal charge even
    brought against a corporation. Court cases are usually heard on
    a Civil Court of Law and not a criminal one. The third judicial
    court is “administrative”. Anyway, criminal convictions against
    the corporate officials for reckless homicide are zero, because
    the people “can not be held criminally liable for the actions of their
    corporations”.

    The verifiable at your public library information for these statements
    are cited at “No More Red Collar Crime”
    http://www.angelfire.com/nm/redcollarcrime/

    If you want to “sound the depths of this”, just do a Google
    search on “Toxic Revelations”.

    Blessings,

    The Toxic Reverend
    http://www.myspace.com/toxicreverend

  2. #2 Dora Hollowell
    July 8, 2008

    I thought you might like this! Love you Donnie

  3. #3 Dora Hollowell
    July 8, 2008

    My name is Dora Hollowell, I was trying to e-mail this to my brother Donald G. DEJaynes father of Donald Bruce DEJaynes and I’m aunt of little Donnie
    they can’t fine R.P.I. enough for all the wrongful deaths that have happen
    nothing will serve justice’s, til R.P.I. no longer has a licences or business, that way they can no longer cause any more wrongful death!! put them out of business, they might just as well had a gun in there hands,we’ll never have our lost back. Thank You The aunt of Donald DeJaynes

  4. #4 gladys holt
    August 13, 2008

    SO big deal RPI is fined 800,000.00 does that mean that my 4 year old son will have his “DAD” to watch him grow up and make him a HARD WORKING MAN like his father was or that my daughters will have their “DAD” to watch them off in their careers and hold their hands one day walk them down the aile the day they marry “NO” the fine is change in their pockets because this is a multimillion dollar company!!!! RPI should of also of been layed to rest as well, this was not their 1st incident! while I have to figure out how to raise my children without their “DAD” and explain to my baby boy that his “DAD” is never coming home!!!! RPI can keep making millions and as long as they pay their “FINES” they will continue to make millions! How sad is that!!!! Meanwhile let me figure out the struggle and the pain n suffering that my children and I have to live with for the rest of our lives oh as well as losing our home, I’m sure Dupree Holt has already been replaced along with the other 4 guys. So RPI along with the others at fault, THanks For a Job well @#$%&*@ done! My HUSBAND DUPREE HOLT NOT ONLY WAS HE LOYAL TO RPI, BUT GAVE HIS YOUTH AND 15+ long years and this is what WE got >>>>we lost him and our home. and all for what!!!!! for a rinky dink fine for something that could have been prevented!!!!!! oh and let us not forget the i’m sorry. “WOW” None of these little fines are going to bring back the “HARD WORKING MEN” that we all knew!!!!

Current ye@r *