In the summer of 2022, onlookers noticed a delivery truck stopped at about 8:15 a.m. one Wednesday morning on the University of Birmingham campus near what would have been the driver’s first drop-off. About two hours later, a passerby saw the driver slumped over and unresponsive.
After they smashed the window to remove the driver, campus police and medical responders were alerted. The 41-year-old woman found inside the truck was transported to a nearby hospital but later died.
A U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the July 20, 2022, tragedy has determined Malcolm Grant, the driver’s employer, might have prevented the death had the delivery service subcontractor implemented procedures for transporting and handling dry ice, and trained their employees of the dangers of hazardous chemicals.
The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration learned that the driver’s delivery truck contained 71 bags of dry ice that were loaded into coolers that could not be fully closed. Investigators determined the truck left the warehouse at approximately 7:40 a.m. and arrived at its first stop soon after.
OSHA issued citations to Grant for three serious violations, including exposing workers transporting dry ice to asphyxiation hazards from carbon dioxide gas, failing to establish and use a written hazard communication program for employees handling dry ice, and not providing delivery workers information and training on handling hazardous chemicals. The company faces $19,643 in proposed OSHA penalties.
OSHA also cited two serious violations to the company contracted for campus deliveries, Armstrong Transfer and Storage Co. Inc. The company, which operates as Armstrong Relocation Company, did not develop and use a written hazard communication program, and failed to maintain safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals, such as dry ice. Armstrong faces $13,394 in proposed OSHA penalties.
“Armstrong Relocation Company and its subcontractor, Malcolm Grant, failed to follow established safety procedures for handling hazardous materials and that failure claimed a worker’s life,” said OSHA Acting Area Office Director Lisa Strunk in Birmingham, Alabama. “This tragedy is an awful reminder of the dangers of asphyxiation that chemicals – such as carbon dioxide – present and how the use of appropriate protective measures might have saved a life.”
Located in Birmingham, Armstrong Transfer & Storage Co. Inc. is a moving, relocation and logistics company for commercial and residential customers with a workforce of about 1,000 employees nationwide. The company subcontracted Malcolm Grant, located in Tuscaloosa, a moving and delivery company.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Visit OSHA’s website for information on developing a workplace safety and health program and on chemical hazards and toxic substances. Employers can also contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards.