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Contractor Fined after Painter Burned

Monday, August 11, 2014

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A California contractor is being held responsible for a flash fire inside a metal tank that left a painter severely burned—and for not reporting the incident for four days.

Shar-Craft Inc., of Bakersfield, faces 16 violations and a total of $82,090 in fines in the Dec. 17 accident, which sent the victim to a local Burn Unit for three days.

“This was a preventable accident,” said Christine Baker, director of California's Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).

Shar-Craft painter
Shar-Craft Inc.

Shar-Craft Inc., of Bakersfield, CA, has provided painting services through its California Coatings division since 1996. A tank fire left a painter seriously injured.

“The employer was aware that working inside the confined space was dangerous but did not take the required steps to avoid putting workers at serious risk.”

16 Violations

The worker, 37, was spraying a flammable coating on the inside walls of a large steel tank when a fire was ignited by a portable halogen light, according to the investigation by DIR's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).

Cal/OSHA cited the company for one willful serious accident-related violation and three serious violations related to the lack of required entry permit for confined spaces, lack of proper equipment and inadequate training for employees working in the tank.

The allegations include:

  • Knowingly using an unauthorized electric lamp while the painter was working in an explosive atmosphere;
  • Lacking a permit for the confined-space work; and
  • Not having the proper ventilation or protective equipment for such a hazardous space.
OSHA confined space
OSHA

Ventilation hoses provide air and exhaust toxic vapors during confined space entry. The use of a guardrail would also be necessary to protect workers from potential falls.

Twelve additional citations were issued for a range of general violations, including failure to report the serious work-related injury within eight hours. The accident was reported four days later, OSHA said.

About the Company

Founded in 1967, Shar-Craft is an industrial services provider with three divisions: California Coatings, Genenco Machine Shop, and Seal and Packing Supply. The coatings business has been operating since 1996, according to the company's website.

Shar-Craft did not respond Friday (Aug. 8) to a request for comment.

OSHA records show no other activity for the company.

Deadly Spaces

Cal/OSHA launched a confined-space emphasis program in 2012 to raise awareness of these hazards and ensure that employers follow proper safeguards. The program includes training in identifying hazards, creating a safety plan, and rescue procedures.

Seal & Packing Supply
Shar-Craft Inc.

Shar-Craft was founded in 1967 as Seal and Packing Supply. It added other divisions later.

(Federal OSHA rolled out a Proposed Rule for Confined Spaces in Construction in 2007. The current rule was written for General Industry.)

Confined spaces, with limited openings for exit and entry, include water and sewer pipes, boilers, silos, kilns, vaults, tunnels and pumping stations.

The program followed the death of seven workers in confined spaces in California in 2011. One of the deaths and two injuries resulted from attempted rescues.

“The purpose of requiring confined-space entry permits is to prevent trouble before work begins,” said Cal/OSHA Acting Chief Juliann Sum.

“This case involved flammable vapors that needed to be monitored and diluted to safe levels, and a lamp approved for this type of operation was required to avoid bringing a source of ignition into a flammable atmosphere.”
 

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Confined space; Fire; Health and safety; Painting Contractor; Tank interiors; Tanks; Ventilation

Comment from Bill Connor, Jr., (8/11/2014, 2:34 AM)

How stupid do you have to be to bring a halogen lamp into a confined space with a flammable paint product. It's obvious that training was lacking but what about common sense? Workers have to look out for themselves and stand up to say no when they are badly equipped. Many times I've told an employer to do it himself if he doesn't have the right equipment on site.


Comment from Mike McCloud, (8/11/2014, 6:48 AM)

Ventilate, Ventilate, Ventilate!


Comment from john lienert, (8/11/2014, 9:40 AM)

oughta' be a dumb tax


Comment from Michael Quaranta, (8/11/2014, 11:42 AM)

Who specified the coating product and what is the name, especially since (according to this article) the product is a known flammable and no doubt high in VOC's.? Training, caution and just plain smarts could have avoided this problem. Getting into a tank for coating with a high VOC product should be against all safety rules. Look at the picture - no ventilation of personal breathing equipment ???


Comment from peter gibson, (8/11/2014, 11:55 AM)

The main problem is the company culture.The men at the top are ignorant and dumb when it comes to safety. Astounding in this day and age. The rot starts at the top.


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