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Paint Plant Fumes Kill Man, Injure 2nd

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

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One man has died and another was critically injured after they were overcome by chemical paint remover fumes while working in a storage tank at a California paint company.

Authorities are investigating the incident Tuesday afternoon that resulted in the death of Roberto Magdariago, 62, of Los Angeles, and left his co-worker, 45, in critical condition at an area hospital.



The workers were believed to have succumbed to fumes from a chemical paint remover as they worked inside a storage tank.

The name of the injured man has not been released. His condition was upgraded to stable on Wednesday, and he was “in much better shape,” said Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.

Both men worked for Vista Paint Company, which operates 48 retail stores in the region. The accident occurred at the company’s production facility and headquarters in Fullerton, CA.

The company did not release a statement or respond to a request for comment on the accident.

Workers Found Unconscious

A co-worker found the two men unconscious about 2 p.m. inside the large storage vessel, which they had been cleaning with a chemical paint remover, authorities said.

The two were taken to a hospital, where Magdariago was pronounced dead. No information was immediately available on whether the storage vessel had ventilation or whether the employees had respiratory protection.

The fumes were confined to the area where the men were working, and no other employees reported symptoms, said Julie Kunze, a division chief with the Fullerton Fire Department.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating. Fullerton Police say the incident appears to be an accident.

‘A Real Tragedy’

“It’s a real tragedy when there are situations like this where it is a confined space,” Cal/OSHA spokeswoman Erika Monterroza told the Orange County Register.

OSHA records show only one prior incident involving Vista Paint in the last five years. In May 2011, the company resolved a 2008 accident in Palm Desert, CA, by paying a $450 fine for three “other than serious” violations: one regarding its illness and injury plan and one regarding truck operations.

OSHA originally issued four citations and a $600 fine in that case. Details of the accident, which affected one person, were not immediately available.


Tagged categories: Coatings manufacturers; Confined space; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Paint and coatings removal; Tanks and vessels; Vista Paint

Comment from arieh calahorra, (11/17/2011, 2:48 AM)

A really sad incident.May all proffesionals learn the lesson.

Comment from Brent Bergman, (11/17/2011, 1:21 PM)

Confined Space Rule #1: Do not enter a confined space unless you verify there are no hazards.

Comment from Kevin Sayler, (11/18/2011, 3:30 PM)

Sometimes, in the real world, a confined space hazard cannot be eliminated prior to entry. However, in a case like this ventilation can help control the atmosphere and appropriate respiratory protection for the exposure level present must be utilized. Paint removal chemicals often contain methylene chloride, a solvent which evaporates quickly and has a low exposure limit. In addition, only supplied air respirators are effective as respiratory protection when dealing with methylene chloride. Employers also sometimes don't evaluate the hazards created by the work performed in the confined space as thoroughly as they evaluate the potential hazards prior to entry, a sometimes deadly mistake.

Comment from Tony Ruckensteiner, (11/22/2011, 8:27 AM)

The hierarchy of safety controls was non-existance in this case.It seems that no job analysis was done, or if done was ignored.No type of air monitoring was done, so no enginering controls i.e. ventilation was used, and no ppe was suplied to the workers, also where was the rescue crew for the workers? In this day and age there should be more penilties and charges brought to unresponsible contractors who would sacrifice thier employees in such a matter just for thier own bottom line.

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