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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 14401137 - Employee Killed When Burned By Asphalt

Accident: 14401137 -- Report ID: 0626300 -- Event Date: 07/26/1997
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30055342709/25/19971611L. J. Earnest, Inc.
At approximately 11:30 a.m. on July 26, 1997, Employee #1, an asphalt distribution truck operator, was preparing to spray a coarse surface treatment of 365-degree F AC15-5TR asphalt. The asphalt distribution truck had just received approximately 2,000 gallons of AC15 and the onsite Texas DOT inspector had passed its strapping procedure. Standing on the rear ladder behind the distribution truck, Employee #1 began to circulate the asphalt through the spray bars. Approximately 800 gallons of hot asphalt spewed straight up in the air and rained down on top of him, as witnessed by both the job site foreman and the Texas DOT inspector. Employee #1 was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital in Texarkana and then transferred to Children's Hospital Burn Center in Little Rock, AR. He died 13 days later due to complications from burns sustained over 60 percent of his body. The operator of the distribution truck had not adequately cleaned out the spray bar from the day before. The previous day's operation had used an SS1 emulsion, which was an approximately 40 to 50 percent water-soluble solution. The circulation of this water solution from the spray bar into the 2,000 gallons of 365-degree F asphalt resulted in an immediate steam eruption. The operator also had not closed or secured the truck's top hatch. This allowed the asphalt to readily spew out the top. The operator began the circulation manually from behind the truck, rather than from inside his truck cab. According to interviews with other employees, the two distribution truck operators and maintenance employees had been instructed how to properly clean the distribution truck tanks and spray bars. The plant manager stated that, while in the company yard on the evening before the accident, he had personally asked Employee #1 if he had cleaned out his system because he was changing from SS1 to AC15. According to the plant manager, Employee #1 responded that he had. In subsequent interviews, employees indicated that the plant manager made a point to ask if they cleaned out their truck systems daily because of safety and quality concerns.
Keywords: burn, inadequate maint, unsecured, work rules, construction, explosion, hot asphalt, high temperature
End Use Proj Type Proj Cost Stories NonBldgHt Fatality
Highway, road, street Maintenance or repair $500,000 to $1,000,000 X
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation Construction
1 300553427 Fatality Burn/Scald(Heat) Occupation not reported FallDist:
Cause: Paving
FatCause: Unloading-loading equipment/material (except by cr

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