An employee of Atlantic Coast Asphalt, a part of Hubbard Construction Co., entered a hot liquid asphalt tank to cut out a section of piping when he became trapped by the tar substance at the company’s plant in Jacksonville, Fla. The employee suffered severe burns to his legs and feet. His rescue took eight hours to complete. As a result of the September 2013 incident, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the company with 10 serious safety and health violations, carrying proposed penalties of $63,360. Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville, had this to say:
This incident could have been prevented if the employer followed OSHA’s standards for lockout/tagout and permit-required confined space procedures. When employers take short-cuts related to safety and health they are gambling with employees’ lives.
The citations were issued for the employer’s failure to follow permit-required confined space entry and lockout/tagout procedures to ensure all hazards were identified, documented, measured and controls put in place prior to the employee entering the space. The employer also exposed workers to entrapment, thermal and chemical burn hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Atlantic Coast Asphalt manufactures and distributes hot-mix asphalt to various residential and commercial customers. The company had 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, fatal work injuries in Florida accounted for 209 of the 4,383 fatal work injuries reported in 2012.
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