The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the June death of a worker at the AC and S Inc. chemical plant in Nitro, West Virginia.
C.W. Sigman, the Kanawha County fire coordinator and deputy emergency manager, told the Charleston Daily Mail that the man was "sandblasting and just fell over." He died in the hospital a few days later. Sigman went on to say that the worker – who was not identified – was wearing a respirator and it is not yet known if a malfunction caused the apparatus to allow the intake of harmful gasses.
"We can't release any details other than to say we're still investigating and trying to determine what the causal factors were and if there were any OSHA violations," said Prentice Cline, area director at OSHA's Charleston office.
AC and S Inc. mainly focuses on rail tank car cleaning, but also manufactures the following products listed on its website:
• agricultural intermediates and chemicals
• epoxy and neoprene curing agents
• pharmaceutical intermediates
• petroleum dyes and intermediates
• specialty dyes
• organic markers
OSHA officials have not specified which hazardous gasses the worker was exposed to.
While it could take up to six months for OSHA to complete its investigation, there is a lesson companies can learn from this tragic incident. There are certainly occasions when circumstances are beyond the control of an employer or their workers, and this could indeed be an example of such a case.
However, training a workforce on how to properly inspect safety equipment is a good practice for every company and can help prevent many avoidable accidents. Online training management systems can help employees to recognize faulty equipment before it endangers anyone.
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