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OSHA finds safety violation caused bathtub refurbisher's death

It is unacceptable for employers to withhold information about life-threatening dangers from workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently completed an investigation into the death of an employee of an Ohio company that refurbishes bath tubs. Investigators determined that a safety violation caused the fatality.

OSHA says, although there are safer chemicals to use for deglazing bathtubs, the employer provided the worker with paint remover with a methylene chloride content of between 85 and 90 percent. Being uninformed about the dangers of this chemicals, the worker deglazed the bath in a closed bathroom with the only fresh air source being the window that was propped open with an aerosol can. He died from overexposure to the dangerous chemical, and his lifeless body was found by the residents of the house at which he was refurbishing the bath.

OSHA proposed $25,200 in penalties for the company's failure to protect the worker and also the failure to inform the worker of the hazards of the paint remover he was using. Investigators also found that the company did not develop a program of respiratory protection. Workers were not trained in the use or storage of the dangerous chemicals.

Losing a loved one in a workplace accident that was caused by a safety violation is an understandably devastating experience. In addition, the family must also deal with the financial impact. Fortunately, the Ohio workers' compensation program allows the surviving family members to pursue death benefits that typically cover the costs of a funeral and burial. Additional financial assistance may be awarded to assist the dependents with living expenses and other financial obligations for a particular period after the tragedy.

Source: workerscompensation.com, "Worker Deglazing Bathtub in Public Housing Complex Died of Acute Exposure to Methylene Chloride", Jan. 28, 2016

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