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Paint Firm: Personal Task Led to Blast

Monday, August 27, 2012

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A painting company employee was using his company’s facility to repair a steel tank from home on his own time when the unit blew apart, injuring him critically, according to his employer.

The life-threatening rupture at D&M Painting, of Amwell, PA, blew the steel pieces of the tank directly into the worker’s face, the company said Monday (Aug. 27).

 “Instead of putting five or 10 pounds of pressure in” the tank, the employee “put 150 pounds of pressure in it,” said a company spokeswoman.
“Instead of putting five or 10 pounds of pressure in” the tank, the employee “put 150 pounds of pressure in it,” said a company spokeswoman.

The accident occurred about 5 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 22). The worker remained in critical condition Monday. His identity has not been released.

After-Hours Accident

In an interview Monday, D&M project manager Stephanie Holland provided some details of the incident. Holland said that:

• The tank owner and a fellow D&M employee were working together on the leaking steel tank, which the owner had brought from his home;

• The employees were at work in the company’s fabricating shop after hours and without the knowledge or consent of the company owner; and

• Holland and the owner were at the office at the time but did not know the men were working on the project until the accident occurred.

“We didn’t know he was back there doing that,” Holland said. “He didn’t have permission from the owner.”

The tank owner has been with the company about two years; the second man, about 10 years, she said. The second man was hit in the eyes by debris, but he has been released from the hospital, Holland said.

Some details of the accident remain unclear, as the men continue to recover, Holland said.

Tank Pressure Cited

Contrary to initial reports, which laid the blast to hot work, Holland said that the employee had been pumping air into the tank before repairing it when the accident occurred.

“He intended on welding it,” said Holland, “and instead of putting five or 10 pounds of pressure in it, he put 150 pounds of pressure in it.”

The pressure blew out the bottom of the tank, grievously injuring the man’s face, eyes and head.

Investigation Continues

Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have visited the site, and their investigation is ongoing.

OSHA does have jurisdiction over the workplace accident,  even if the accident did not involve a worker's official duties, a spokeswoman said Monday.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Contractors; Health and safety; OSHA; Tanks; Tanks and vessels

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