Contractor Fined $162,000 after Worker Dies from Overexposure to Methylene Chloride

Stockbridge, Ga.-based Creative Multicare Inc. was issued five serious, two willful, and one other-than-serious violation following the death of a worker who was exposed to excessive amounts of methylene chloride while using the chemical to remove paint from a bathtub surface.

OSHA has cited Stockbridge, Ga.-based Creative Multicare Inc. with five serious, two willful, and one other-than-serious violation following the February death of a worker who was exposed to excessive amounts of methylene chloride while using the chemical to remove paint from a bathtub surface. The employee, who was working in a small bathroom at the Lakeshore Apartments in Clarkston, Ga., was found dead on the floor. Penalties total $162,000.

The two willful violations include allowing employees to be highly overexposed to methylene chloride and for not requiring employees to use air-supplied respirators when handling the chemical. The OSHA standard requires that the employer shall ensure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration in excess of 25 parts of methylene chloride per million parts of air. Based on information provided by the medical examiner, OSHA calculated that the employee had been exposed to more than 47 times that amount. A subsequent inspection also found worker exposure to high rates of methylene chloride.

The serious citations involve the company's failure to provide its employees with proper personal protective equipment when handling chemicals, not conducting medical examinations for employees who wore half-mask and full-mask respirators, not providing initial and annual fit-testing for employees who wore half-mask and full-mask respirators, and not providing procedures and schedules for the cleaning and storing of respirators. Employees exposed to methylene chloride were not protected through the implementation of engineering controls.

The other-than-serious violation was cited for failing to contact OSHA within 8 hours of the fatality.

"Management had adequate knowledge of the dangers of exposure to methylene chloride but chose to ignore them, allowing employees to work without adequate protection. Tragically, this indifference to employees' health and safety came at the cost of a worker's life," said William Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office.

The company has additional offices in Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla. It provides carpet restoration, tile and counter resurfacing, and plumbing services for apartment and condominium residences.

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