Accident at work leaves Roanoker with severe burns

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Accident at work leaves Roanoker with severe burns
Lindsey Nair 981-3334The Roanoke Times e-mail this story
A chemical accident at a Roanoke distributing company early Thursday has left a man in critical condition at the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Greg Staley, 27, of Roanoke suffered burns over 50 percent of his body when the chemicals he was mixing to form a de-icer for airplanes came into contact with his arms, shoulders, legs and back, said his father, Mike Staley.
The incident happened about 5:45 a.m. Thursday at Chemical & Solvents Inc., or Chemsolv, at 1140 Industry Ave. S.E, said Roanoke Fire-EMS spokeswoman Jennifer Faulkner.
Staley was taken by ambulance to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, then airlifted later Thursday morning to Charlottesville, his family said. No one else was injured in the accident.
Mike Staley said he was upset by news that his son had to wait for some time after medics arrived at the scene before they would put him in an ambulance and transport him to the hospital. Staley believed medics did not want to soil their ambulance with the chemicals.
“A person’s life is much more important than a doggone ambulance,” Mike Staley said.
Roanoke Fire-EMS Division Chief David Hoback said the medics’ first contact with Greg Staley was at 5:55 a.m. and the ambulance transported him to the hospital at 6:16 a.m.
Hoback said chemical burns are different from any other injury, and handling the scene of a chemical spill is complicated. Even if a patient tells them which chemical was involved, he said, their protocol requires them to obtain Material Safety Data Sheets from the company because different chemicals require different responses.
Once they get the information, firefighters and medics look up the chemical to determine whether anyone else is at risk and what type of decontamination must take place. Staley had rinsed off, but some chemicals require a shower of 20 minutes or more, Hoback said.
He said the delay Thursday was to avoid endangering medics or transporting a chemical to an emergency room and endangering other patients.
“I certainly don’t want any of our citizens to think that we would put a material or a piece of equipment in front of the health of our citizens,” said Roanoke Fire-EMS Chief Jim Grigsby.
Fire department officials have not released information on the type of chemical involved in the accident.
Jamie Austin, vice president and general manager at Chemsolv, said the company has been a member of the National Association of Chemical Distributors and has had a successful safety record for more than 20 years.
“We always want to put our employees out in the field … with all the information and all the training that is required and necessary,” he said.
Austin said Staley went through full pre-employment training and is a good employee with the company.
“We’re concerned and our prayers go out to the employee and his family,” he said.
The company is investigating the matter to determine what caused the accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor will also investigate the case, said OSHA spokesman Lee Willis.
Willis said the investigation will take up to six months. A search of OSHA databases revealed no prior investigations at Chemsolv between 1972 and the present. Chemsolv has operated since 1979.

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