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Region 5 News Release V-331
Date: September 16, 2002
Contact: Jule Jones
Phone: (419) 259-7542

Worker's Death After Explosion Of Tar Kettle Leads To $7,500 OSHA Fine For Bellefontaine, Ohio, Firm


TOLEDO, Ohio -- A Bellefontaine, Ohio, company's failure to provide safety training that could have prevented a fatal accident has resulted in citations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA fined Garman Construction Co. $7,500 on Aug. 30 for five alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, following its investigation of the explosion of a tar kettle on May 24 at a worksite at 450 Christina Drive in Bellefontaine.

According to Jule Jones, OSHA's area director in Toledo, company workers sealing cracks in asphalt used a tar kettle to heat solid tar up to temperatures above 350 degrees to liquefy the tar. The investigation revealed that water was added to oil in a thermal jacket around the tar kettle. The boiling water led to the release of a mist consisting of hot steam and oil that was ignited by propane burners. Employee John Mustain, 23, died after he received severe burns over 98% of his body in the explosion.

"Our investigation revealed that employees were neither properly trained nor given proper personal protective equipment," said Jones. "Had these safety precautions been in place, this tragedy might have been avoided."

OSHA issued citations to the company for failing to conduct regular inspections of the job site by qualified workers; failing to have qualified equipment operators; failing to train employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions; and failing to train workers who used hazardous chemicals. The company was also cited for failing to make arrangements for prompt medical attention prior to the start of work; failing to ensure that a person certified to provide first aid was at the jobsite; failing to have a Material Safety Data Sheet for each hazardous chemical; and failing to provide personal protective equipment.

Garman Construction Co. has three employees. OSHA based the amount of the penalty on the size of the company, absence of prior safety violations, and types of violations.

OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition, and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

The company has 15 workdays to pay the assessed penalty, seek an informal conference to discuss the items, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.



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Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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