TECO, Gaffin Industrial cited after molten slag kills 5 in Big Bend power plant incident

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Electric Co. and Gaffin Industrial Services were cited by the U.S. Labor Department Occupational Safety and Health Administration Thursday after five employees died and one suffered serious burns in an incident at TECO’s Big Bend Power Plant in June.

OSHA Inspectors determined that the employees were burned when a blockage inside a coal-fired furnace broke free and spewed molten slag into the work area. Employees of Tampa Electric, Gaffin Industrial Services, and Brace Integrated Services Inc. died in the incident.

According to a U.S. Labor Department Cites new release, OSHA cited Tampa Electric for failing to follow energy control procedures while performing maintenance on equipment. Gaffin Industrial Services was cited for failing to develop procedures to control hazardous energy. Tampa Electric and Gaffin were also cited for failing to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to safeguard employees from burns.

Proposed penalties for both companies totaled $160,972. Brace Integrated Services was not issued citations.

Gofundme pages were created for Armando Perez, as well as Antonio Navarrete, Brace employees who were fatally injured in the incident.

Other workers who died from injuries suffered in the accident include Frank Lee Jones, Christopher Irvin, and Michael McCort.

The accident happened Thursday, June 29. The workers were burned during an accident that happened when they were performing routine maintenance on a slag tank, which houses coal waste after it’s burned.  Slag is a glass-like product that’s formed when coal mixes with water.

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