Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 01-95
Fri., June 15, 2001
Contact: Clyde Payne
PHONE: (601) 965-4606
OSHA CITES GULFPORT, MISS., MANUFACTURER FOLLOWING INVESTIGATION OF FATAL ACCIDENT; PROPOSES $71,500 IN PENALTIES
Gulfport, Miss. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Blacklidge Emulsions, Inc., Gulfport, Miss., and proposed $71,500 in penalties following the investigation of a fatal accident that occurred Jan. 18, when an employee began cutting a hole in a storage tank.
The fatality occurred when an assistant plant manager attempted to cut a hole with an acetylene torch in a tank containing asphalt emulsion - an adhesive used in highway paving -- to visually survey the amount of emulsion remaining in the tank. The assistant plant manager was helping other employees estimate the remaining contents of the 16-foot high, 10,000 gallon capacity tank when he stepped on a pallet and ordered a forklift operator to raise him to the top of the tank.
"No safety precautions were taken before the cutting operation began," Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director said. "The assistant plant manager's attention was twice called to a warning sign on the side of the structure which stated the contents were flammable or combustible. In disregard of safety procedures he lit the acetylene torch and began cutting, causing an explosion that blew him 93 feet away."
OSHA issued 17 serious citations including failing to:
-conduct atmospheric testing and assure that storage tanks were free of combustible material or vapors before cutting;
-follow proper purging procedures;
-properly vent storage tanks;
-protect employees from fall hazards.
The company, which employs 35 workers and had six at the accident site, has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA's proposed penalties are based on the violation of safety or health standards, rather than the extent of injuries suffered or loss of life.
Inspection of the Reichhold Road facility was conducted by OSHA's area office located at 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210, Jackson, Miss., 39211; telephone: (601) 965-4606.