Lansing, MICH. (WLNS) — An Ann Arbor hotel has been cited for six serious violations and two willful violations of workplace safety rules following the death in November of a worker at the hotel.

According to a press release from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), the agency imposed six serious citations and two willful-serious citations totaling $155,600 in penalties against US 23 Lodge LLC, which operates Victory Inn and Suites. The maximum penalty for each willful penalty is $70,000 under the MIOSHA act, which was applied to these violations to have an appropriate deterrent effect.

As a result of the investigation, MIOSHA has referred US 23 Lodge LLC to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for possible criminal prosecution.

The investigation began in November 28, 2022, after a 49-year-old employee was found slouched against the wall of a third-floor boiler room at the Victory Inn and Suites. An autopsy determined the man was killed by excessive carbon monoxide, officials from MIOSHA say.

MIOSHA’s investigation revealed the exhaust on the boiler system was blocked with a metal sheet which allowed the carbon monoxide gases to build up inside the room, official say. Additionally, the system’s air intake was blocked off with a garbage bag that prevented the flow of fresh air into the boiler room.

The employer also received six serious citations related to ventilation control, design safety standards for electrical systems, powered grounds keeping equipment, asbestos and not having a hazard communication program in place.

The violations issued include:

Willful-Serious Violations

  • Part 301, Air Containments, Rule 325.51103(a)(iii) – $70,000
    On Nov. 27-28, 2022, an on-call maintenance employee working in the establishment’s 3rd floor boiler room was exposed to an airborne concentration of carbon monoxide in excess of the 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) limit of 35 parts per million (ppm) and in excess of the ceiling limit of 200 ppm.
  • Part 1, General Provisions, Rule 408.10011(a) – $70,000
    An employee (the deceased) tasked with the operation and maintenance of the establishment’s third-floor boiler system was not given employer-provided training regarding the operation, hazards or safeguards associated with boiler heating systems and their operation.

Serious Violations

  • Part 520, Ventilation Control, Rule  325.52010 – $7,000
    On November 28, 2022, the roof-top exhaust discharge location of the third-floor boiler system was obstructed with a metal sheet, a condition that permitted combustion exhaust gases containing carbon monoxide to build up in the third-floor boiler room rather than being discharged outside of the building.
  • Part 520, Ventilation Control, Rule  325.52005(1) – $7,000
    On November 28, 2022, a fresh-air intake servicing the third-floor boiler room was blocked with plastic garbage bags, a condition that would prevent a flow of fresh outdoor air into the working environment equal to that exhausted.
  • Part 39, Design Safety Standards for Electrical Systems, Rule 1910.303(g)(1) – $400  
    Access to an electrical panel in the establishment’s maintenance room was blocked by equipment and debris, a condition that did not permit the ready and safe operation and maintenance of the panel.
  • Part 54, Powered Groundskeeping Equipment, Rule  408.15416(2) – $400
    The safety mechanism on each of two partially filled portable containers used to fuel powered groundskeeping equipment had been removed.
  • Part 305, Asbestos Standards, Rule  1910.1001(j)(3)(i) – $400
    The building had not been surveyed to determine the presence, location, and quantity of asbestos-containing and presumed asbestos-containing materials at the worksite. The material in question was thermal system insulation in the form of pipe insulation/wrap and mudded fittings in the establishment’s first and third floor boiler rooms.  
  • Part 430, Hazard Communications, Rule  1910.1200(e)(1) – $400
    A written hazard communication program addressing chemicals had not implemented in the workplace. Employees worked with and were exposed to hazardous chemical-containing products during hotel maintenance and housekeeping-related activities.  

“Our goal is always to educate before we regulate,” said MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman. “But when employers neglect to identify workplace hazards or provide necessary safeguards to protect their employees, we must hold them accountable for making sure their employees are properly trained and equipped to perform their jobs safely. This death was 100% preventable.”