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Explosion, Burns Spark Fines

Friday, November 11, 2016

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A California roofing contractor faces nearly $25,000 in fines after a tank explosion burned two workers and launched them 10 feet to the ground.

Cal/OSHA, the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, cited AAA Roofing by Gene Inc., of Riverside, for serious and regulatory violations stemming from the incident which occurred May 2, 2016, at a flat roof repair project in Santa Fe Springs.

The unidentified workers were standing on top of a tanker truck attempting to turn the truck's discharge pipe to face another direction, Cal/OSHA explained.

The workers' foreman had instructed them to heat the pipe with a propane torch to loosen it, according to Cal/OSHA. The tanker was half-filled with hot liquid asphalt, which releases flammable vapors.

During the process of heating the pipe, an explosion occurred, throwing the workers to the ground.

First responders said when they arrived at the scene they found the burning tanker and the injured workers nearby. The victims suffered third-degree burns and were treated a local hospital.

Flammable Risks

"Flammable vapors accumulated in kettles and tankers, if ignited, can burn or explode," said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.

"Employers must ensure that no source of ignition is permitted in any location, indoors or outdoors, where the concentration of flammable gases or vapors exceeds or may reasonably be expected to exceed 25 percent of the lower explosive limit."

Cal/OSHA issued three workplace safety citations to AAA Roofing by Gene, with proposed penalties of $24,575. Two of the citations are serious, and one is regulatory in nature, according to Cal/OSHA.

Serious Citations

One of the serious citations involves the company’s alleged failure to ensure the tanker truck was equipped with a 42-inch guardrail. This could have helped ensure the workers did not fall 10 feet as they did, the regulators said.

© / JanHetman

The roofing company specializes in new construction, existing building re-roofs, tenant improvement, maintenance and leak detection, according to its website.

The other serious citation was issued for allegedly allowing a source of ignition to be introduced where the flammable gases exceeded 25 percent of the lower explosive limit.

A serious violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazardous condition.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday (Nov. 10).  

About the Company

AAA Roofing by Gene describes itself as a “family owned and operated commercial roofing company specializing in new construction, existing building re-roofs, tenant improvement, maintenance and leak detection,” on its website.  

The company applies coatings, tile, shingles and other roofing materials to a range of facilities including, commercial, industrial, healthcare and military throughout southern California.

The company was founded in 1989 by Gene Smith, who has over 35 years of experience in the roofing industry.

AAA Roofing by Gene’s recent record with Cal/OSHA includes one “other” citation, carrying a $450 fine, issued in 2012, which is not indicated as closed.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Citations; Enforcement; Ethics; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; OSHA; Regulations; Roofing contractors

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