Safety and OSHA News

Worker stuck up to his knees in hot tar: $63K OSHA fine

OSHA has issued 10 serious citations and $63,360 in fines against a Florida company following an investigation into an incident in which an employee became trapped up to his knees in hot, liquid asphalt.

The 45-year-old employee suffered severe burns to his legs and feet. It took rescue crews eight hours to free him. They used peanut oil to loosen the tar around his legs and ultimately had to cut a hole in the side of the tank to get him out.

The employee of Atlantic Coast Asphalt in Jacksonville, FL, had entered a hot liquid asphalt tank to cut out a section of pipe using a steel cutter. Eventually, his feet became stuck in the asphalt, and he was no longer able to move them.

As a result of the September 2013 incident, OSHA issued serious citations for failure to:

  • follow permit-required confined space entry procedures
  • follow lockout/tagout procedures before employees enter a confined space, and
  • protect workers from entrapment, and thermal and chemical burn hazards.

The maximum per serious citation OSHA can issue is $7,000. With ten violations, that means Atlantic’s $63,360 fine was close to the maximum allowed.

“This incident could have been prevented if the employer followed OSHA’s standards for lockout/tagout and permit-required confined space procedures,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville.

The company has 15 business days to decide whether to contest the citations. Appeals can be heard by an administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Atlantic Coast Asphalt is owned by Hubbard Construction Co. Atlantic manufactures and distributes hot-mix asphalt to residential and commercial customers.

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