A Dalton man died Wednesday evening while cleaning a tank of latex at a south Dalton plant, Whitfield County Coroner Bobbie Dixon said.
Pascual Apodaca, 51, of Pine Hill Drive, was pronounced dead at 9:30 p.m. Dixon said she was called by 911 to go to Global Textile Services at 120 Keen Drive around 8:25 p.m.
Apodaca worked for Global Textile for about 20 years but had clocked out at the time of the incident and was working for a contractor who cleans tanks, said Tom Peeples, manager of the company.
“He was an employee but wasn’t under the direction of Global at the time of the incident,” Peeples said. “We’re in the process of doing an internal investigation right now, along with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Mr. Apodaca passed away while working with a team of two other individuals while cleaning residue from a latex tank. He was wearing a respirator, and Mr. Apodaca, while working in the tank, suddenly collapsed and was immediately non-responsive. (Whitfield) 911 was called and Mr. Apodaca was pronounced dead at the scene. We’re very sad that Mr. Apodaca passed away and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Peeples said OSHA was contacted soon after Apodaca was pronounced dead and had a team of investigators at the plant Thursday morning. Dixon said Apodaca’s body has been sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy.
Dixon said Apodaca was working for a contractor named Donald Johnson who cleans the tanks for local businesses. Contacted Thursday morning, Johnson said, “I don’t have time to talk to you right now.”
Asked if he would have time later in the day, he replied, “Not today.”
Michael Wald of the public affairs office of the U.S. Department of Labor in Atlanta responded with an email to The Daily Citizen Thursday morning.
“OSHA opened its inspection today into the fatality at Global Textile Services ... The normal process is for the local police to decide whether there is any indication of criminal activity ... If the police rule that the death was accidental, then OSHA becomes the lead agency in the inspection,” he said.
Dalton Police spokesman Bruce Frazier said there is “no law enforcement aspect” and no incident report since the death was an accident and not crime-related.
Wald said OSHA is “looking to see if any safety or health standards were violated.”
“An OSHA inspection can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months,” he explained. “OSHA policy is not to issue preliminary or interim reports until their inspection is completed. If OSHA finds violations, they would cite the violations, require the company to correct any violations, and impose a monetary penalty on the company.”