BYRON — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating an explosion at Bob’s Auto Salvage that severely burned a worker who died two months later at a burn center in Augusta.
Tarl Adrian Earwood, 39, of Juliette, died May 8 at the Doctors Hospital’s Joseph M. Still Burn Center from 95 percent total body surface area burns, said Peach County Coroner Kerry Rooks. Earwood was using a cutting torch on a 55-gallon drum when it exploded March 5, Rooks said.
The death was ruled accidental, Rooks said.
The OSHA investigation is to determine whether any OSHA standards were violated, said Mike Wald, an OSHA spokesman.
OSHA initiated its investigation March 15 after receiving a complaint about the explosion, Wald said.
The complainant is confidential, he said.
Businesses are required to report an incident if three or more workers are injured or when there is a fatality, Wald said. The company, located at 7611 Houston Road, did not report the explosion to OSHA but the investigation was initiated before Earwood died, Wald said.
A public report is required by federal law to be completed within six months of when the investigation began, Wald said.
Peach County sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick Michael Sondron responded to the 3:27 p.m. explosion at the automobile salvage and parts recycling center as ambulance and fire personnel were preparing to leave, according to the Peach County Sheriff’s Office incident report.
Charred clothing was in the middle of the dirt driveway and also near where the victim was lying, the report said.
Sondron spoke with Thomas Griggers, who identified himself as “in charge of the happenings in the rear of the business,” the report stated.
“Mr. Griggers explained Tarl Earwood had attempted to cut into a metallic drum without first venting the drum,” Sondron wrote in the report. “Mr. Griggers states he exited the building after hearing the explosion to find Mr. Earwood running in the area on fire.”
Thomas Griggers declined to comment to The Telegraph.
The barrel, a red 55-gallon drum, had been cut and was bowed at both ends and the bottom was breached, according to the report. The cap and plug were still screwed into the top of the barrel.
Also, Sondron noted a round indention in the roof where the barrel had struck it, the report stated.
The barrel had held some type of roofing material, Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said.
The business license lists the owner of Bob’s Auto Salvage as Robert Griggers, said Peach County Marshal T.J. Crutchfield. Robert Griggers could not be reached for comment.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.