OSHA Cites Paving Company in Heat Fatality

The agency launched an investigation after an employee working on a parking lot paving job in Washington, D.C., suffered heat stress, was taken to a hospital, and died there.

LH Musser & Sons Inc., a paving company located in Clarksburg, Md., faces $6,900 in proposed fines and has been cited for one allegedly serious violation of OSHA's general duty clause following a heat-related fatality during a parking lot paving job in June in Washington, D.C. OSHA opened an inspection after an employee working on the job at a church located at 16th and Varnum Streets NW suffered heat stress, was taken to a hospital, and died there.

"This tragedy underscores the need for employers to ensure that workers have frequent access to water, rest, and shade to prevent heat illness and injuries during the hot summer months, and also why it is important that workers are trained to recognize and respond to the signs of heat-related illness," said Robert Szymanski, acting director of OSHA's Baltimore/Washington Area Office.

The Associated Press quoted Larry Musser, identified as one of the company's owners, as saying the employee who died was a friend of his and denying any wrongdoing.

According to OSHA, the serious violation involves allegedly failing to provide a program addressing heat-related hazards -- in this case, the workplace was the outdoors, where employees performed duties involving hot asphalt in direct sunlight. OSHA said the company did not maintain a work/rest regimen, train employees to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, or ensure employees consumed adequate amounts of water.

The company also was cited for one other-than-serious violation for failing to report the fatality to OSHA within eight hours.

To access OSHA heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as visit http://www.osha.gov/heat. OSHA also offers a free app for mobile devices that allows workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites, available for download in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/heatapp.

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