OSHA Fines Firm in Blaster's Death

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 2, 2013


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

'Intolerable'

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.

AC&S

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; Health & Safety; OSHA; Respirators; Respiratory Protection Standard

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