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Paint Worker Found on Tank Dies

Monday, September 16, 2013

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A paint plant worker in New Jersey died after he was overcome by fumes and toppled onto a solvent tank, local police reported.

Henry Campbell, 56, an employee of Hartin Paint & Filler Corp. in Carlstadt, NJ, was pronounced dead Wednesday night (Sept. 11) after being taken, unresponsive, to the Hackensack University Medical Center, according to a press release posted on the Carlstadt Police Department's Facebook page.

Hartin Paint and Filler Corp.
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An employee at Hartin Paint & Filler Corp. died after he was found unconscious on top of a tank of toluene in Carlstadt, NJ, on Wednesday.

A co-worker, Kalifi Thomas, 40, was also taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released, Dennis Monks, Carlstadt's emergency services chief, told The Record. Thomas was overcome by vapors while pulling Campbell off the vat.

Tank of Toluene

The workers had been checking the levels in the vat, and the plant was closed for the day, which is standard procedure, Detective John Cleary told The Record.

According to Monks, the tank contained toluene and could hold at least 500 gallons.

Usually mixed with solvents and chemicals such as paint pigments, toluene exposure can damage the central nervous system, eyes, skin, respiratory system, liver and kidneys. Exposure to high concentrations of toluene, usually from use in a confined space or unventilated area, can cause loss of consciousness, respiratory depression and death.

First reports said that Campbell had fallen into the tank, but police later said that he had been found with his body covering the opening of the top of the tank.

Cleary said authorities did not immediately know how Campbell lost consciousness and fell on top of the tank.

A woman who answered the phone at Hartin Paint on Friday (Sept. 13) said that no one was available to comment.

The local fire department responded and decontaminated the two men by hosing them down. Emergency medical workers then administered first aid, Monks said.

toluene
OSHA

Police said it wasn't immediately clear how the worker lost consciousness and fell onto the tank. Toluene exposure can cause unconsciousness and death in confined spaces.

Several medical workers also had to undergo decontamination after rendering medical treatment to Campbell, the police said.

OSHA Investigating

Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators were on the scene of the incident Wednesday evening, after being notified by the Carlstadt police. The Bergen County Hazmat Team also responded, and the Department of Environmental Protection was notified, according to the police department.

OSHA has up to six months to investigate and release the findings of a fatality.

Hartin Paint was cited by OSHA in 2007 for four serious violations for flammable liquids and storage of materials that created a hazard and four other-than-serious citations for flammable liquids, respirators and hazard communication, Leni Fortson, OSHA's regional director, told PaintSquare News on Friday.

   

Tagged categories: Fatalities; hazardous materials; OSHA; Solvents; Tanks and vessels

Comment from Gordon Kuljian, (9/16/2013, 10:42 AM)

A simple sight glass or tank level indicator could have prevented such a tragedy.


Comment from Sandy Moran, (9/17/2013, 6:13 PM)

Prayers and condolences to the family of the worker in this tragic incident. No life should be lost in the manufacture or application of products. The first focus must remain: PEOPLE.


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