Two Boston Employers Cited Following Fatal Overexposure

OSHA cited two Boston companies last week for violations of the OSH Act following the June death of a repairman.

Last week, OSHA cited Dick's Last Resort of Boston Inc., a restaurant, and BALCO Inc., a refrigeration and HVAC repair company for alleged Serious violations of the OSH Act following the death in June of a BALCO repairman.

The repairman was overcome by carbon dioxide while repairing a walk-in freezer at the restaurant.

OSHA has proposed a total of $77,000 in penalties against the two employers.

According to Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, a restaurant employee discovered the repairman unconscious in the closed walk-in freezer on June 12 of this year.

Nine 55-pound blocks of dry ice were placed in the freezer to lower temperatures to help preserve food while the freezer was being repaired.

As the blocks evaporated, dangerous levels of carbon dioxide built up in the closed freezer and overcame the repairman, who died the next day.

"The inspection found that both companies allowed their employees to enter an atmosphere that posed an immediate danger to life and health due to excess carbon dioxide levels and that they allowed the workers to do so without appropriate respiratory protection, without adequate training and without stationing an employee outside the freezer to monitor the worker inside," said Gordon.

"In addition, the restaurant was also cited for not posting a danger tag on the freezer, lack of hazard communication program and failing to address how outside contractor employees would be informed of hazardous materials and conditions."

Gordon noted that feasible methods of addressing these types of hazards can include mechanical ventilation of the work space, the use of respiratory protection by employees, continuous atmospheric monitoring of the work area and continuous monitoring of employees in the work space.

"A case such as this shows in the strongest terms why safety standards are important and why it is necessary that they be followed," said Gordon.

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