One of the persons injured in a tanker truck explosion at the Mohawk Asphalt Emulsion plant in Scotia, New York has tragically died. Two other workers suffered severe burn injuries when an 18-wheeler tanker caught fire. According to fire officials, workers were offloading a liquid asphalt mixture of kerosene and diesel fuel mixed with tar. The asphalt plant, which is owned by The Gorman Group, is located on the Mohawk River just downstream of Freeman’s Bridge and the construction site of the Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is investigating the explosion, which state fire and environmental officials reported happened when workers using a blow torch to heat a tank valve ignited vapors from the liquid asphalt tanker. OSHA is a federal agency that enforces safety standards at workplaces. Under state law, workers are also entitled to the safety protections of New York’s Labor Law and Industrial Code Regulations.
One of the hazards of asphalt is exposure to a source of ignition. Liquid asphalt vapors are highly flammable. Sparks, electricity, open flames, incandescent material or other ignition sources should be prohibited or strictly controlled in the vicinity of asphalt operations.
Last month an explosion at an asphlat plant in Corpus Christi, Texas killed one worker and injured another. OSHA is investigating the cause of the explosion.