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OSHA Fines Firm in Blaster's Death

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

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A fatal labeling error that led an abrasive blaster to hook his supplied-air hood to nitrogen gas rather than oxygen will cost a West Virginia employer $42,700 in federal health and safety fines.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited AC&S Inc., of Nitro, WV, with 12 serious violations at the chemical manufacturer's facility in the death of a worker who was performing abrasive blasting activities in July.

During the blasting, the air line for a supplied-air hood was hooked up to a nitrogen gas line, and the worker became unconscious and eventually died, OSHA inspectors found.

AC&S Inc.
Photos: AC&S Inc.

AC&S provides chemical manufacturing and materials handling services.

AC&S provides chemical manufacturing and blending and materials handling services. The company did not respond to a request for comment.


Nitrogen gas presents several risks, including displacing available oxygen. The serious violations stemming from the worker's death included failing to label nitrogen lines at connection points and not ensuring that breathing air couplings were incompatible with other gas systems.

"ACS has a responsibility to ensure that its workers are safeguarded from workplace hazards and, by not properly labeling its gas systems, failed to protect a worker who ended up losing his life. That is intolerable," said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA's Charleston Area Office.


Because of a lapse in labeling, an abrasive blasting worker hooked up his supplied-air hood to nitrogen gas.

"OSHA's standards are designed to prevent this kind of tragic incident."

Other Violations

Other serious violations include alleged failure to:

  • Train workers in using hazardous chemicals;
  • Ensure that stairways wider than 44 inches have handrails on each side;
  • Provide process safety information and process hazard analysis;
  • Use approved electrical chain hosts;
  • Develop a mechanical integrity program; and
  • Document that equipment complied with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices.

A serious violation reflects substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply with or contest them.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Accidents; Air quality; Construction chemicals; Fatalities; OSHA; Respirators; Respiratory Protection Standard

Comment from Rick Leber, (1/2/2013, 4:18 PM)

So the company fails to do what it had a responsible to do and it costs a man his life and they get fined $42,700. Seems low and like a slap on the hand for such neglect.

Comment from Duane Moore, (1/3/2013, 10:29 AM)

Our company, Oregon Iron Works, has a policy where all our fresh supplied air lines have connections that ONLY fresh air lines can be hooked to. All other lines have different connections. This should be a standard everywhere. It surely would have prevented an accident like this one.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/4/2013, 8:46 AM)

Duane - kudos to your comany. It's so simple and effective - make it so that workers simply can't accidentally hook up to the wrong gas supply because their fitting won't work anywhere else.

Comment from Dallas Bills, (1/5/2013, 2:52 PM)

This place is a joke. I worked there.

Comment from Wes Carter, (1/8/2013, 8:30 PM)

12 violations? Shouldn't there be Criminal Charges filed here? Could there be intent? This needs to be prosecuted! Oh, he wasn't killed by a gun so I guess everything's o.k.

Comment from Kevin Sayler, (1/17/2013, 11:10 PM)

Using fittings for breathing airlines which are incompatible with all other fittings in a facility and labeling nitrogen lines is just the beginning of what they need to be doing. Please note there are other requirements for Grade D breathing air, check the OSHA standard 1910.134(i)(1)(ii) which spells out the parameters of Grade D air. Contaminants entrained into the compressed air system are another sad cause of fatalities when using supplied air respirators (think CO from a forklift idling next to the compressor, etc).

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