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.