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Buyer, temp firm fined in worker’s heat-related death

September 17 2013

BFI Waste Services of Texas LP, dba Republic Services Inc., and its temporary labor provider, Recana Solutions LLC, were cited with seven safety violations for exposing workers to excessive heat after a worker died from heat stress in June, the U.S Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced. Republic Service's proposed penalties total $20,000 and Recana Solutions' proposed penalties total $13,000.

Republic Services was cited for two serious violations, with a penalty of $14,000, for failing to provide first aid training and protect workers from recognized heat stress hazards. Two other-than-serious violations, with a penalty of $6,000, were cited for failing to report the facility to OSHA within eight hours and record the temporary worker's fatality on the employer's OSHA 300 log for record keeping.

Recana Solutions was cited for one serious violation, with a penalty of $7,000, for failing to protect workers from recognized heat stress hazards. Two other-than-serious violations, with a penalty of $6,000, were cited for failing to report the fatality to OSHA within eight hours and provide personal protection equipment.

A spokesperson for Republic Services said the loss of life is tragic but the company makes safety a priority. However, the citations contained omissions and inaccuracies, and the company plans to contest it.

“Any loss of life is tragic, especially when it is avoidable. That is precisely why we make safety our highest priority. We offer a comprehensive safety program that includes heat exposure training,” said Russ Knocke, Republic Services’ director of field communications and public affairs. “It is unfortunate that OSHA's citation has material omissions and inaccuracies. We intend to contest the citation.”

Recana Solutions could not be reached for comment.

"It is truly a matter of life and death that workers and employers take proactive steps to stay safe in extreme heat and be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion," said Mark Briggs, OSHA's area director in the Houston South office. "It's as simple as drinking plenty of water and taking breaks in cool, shaded areas in order to save lives."

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Fort Worth area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Another buyer and staffing firm were cited last month in the heat-related death of another temporary worker. For that story, click here.

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