Jan. 27, 2016
Worker deglazing bathtub in public housing complex died of acute exposure
to methylene chloride, a toxic chemical found in paint stripper
OSHA cites Best Touch Tub & Tile in July fatality in Cleveland
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The death of a 30-year-old worker from acute methylene chloride exposure could have been avoided if his employer had protected him properly from dangerous exposure to the toxin in the paint remover he used to deglaze a bathtub in a Cuyahoga County public housing complex, federal investigators determined.
Following an investigation into the July 29, 2015, death, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Cleveland-based Best Touch Tub & Tile LLC for six serious safety violations on Jan. 19. Since 2000, OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have identified at least 14 worker deaths nationwide related to bathtub refinishing* using paint removers with methylene chloride.
"This man died tragically and needlessly," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "OSHA recommends alternative, less hazardous chemicals or methods be used to eliminate exposure to methylene chloride. When employers use products containing methylene chloride, they must train workers to protect themselves. They must also provide adequate ventilation, respiratory protection and protective clothing and proper equipment. "
Investigators determined Best Touch Tub & Tile employee, on the job for about three years, was working alone to refinish a bathtub in a Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority complex. To deglaze the tub, he poured a paint remover â¿¿ containing 85 to 90 percent methylene chloride â¿¿ into the bathtub, brushed it on the sides and began scraping the tub. With the room's door closed to prevent fumes from filling the living area, the worker's only ventilation was the bathroom window kept open with a can of shaving cream. Two hours later, the apartment's resident found the man unresponsive. The investigation found the worker's exposure to methylene chloride far exceeded permissible exposure limits.
OSHA cited Best Touch Tub & Tile for failing to:
- Monitor a worker's exposure to methylene chloride
- Provide medical surveillance
- Train workers in using, storing and taking protective measures to minimize exposure to hazardous chemicals used on the job
- Provide adequate respiratory protection
- Develop a respiratory protection program
OSHA has proposed penalties of $25,200. View current citations here*.
Best Touch Tub & Tile has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Cleveland, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Cleveland office at 216-447-4171.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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Release Number: 16-94-CHI
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.