A 54-year-old worker died after he was found in a vat of sulfuric acid at a South Lyon, MI-based steel manufacturing firm.
Daniel Hill was fully submerged in the 10-12 percent sulfuric acid solution Saturday afternoon as his Michigan Seamless Tube co-workers attempted to pull him from the industrial container, burning themselves from the at least 160-degree chemical solution, Fire Chief Robert Vogel said.
“Other employees, co-workers saw him in the tank,” Vogel said. “He was completely submerged and was 100 percent covered in burns. The gentleman was trying to get out. They ran and grabbed him and pulled him out.”
Roughly 11 hours later, Hill died of chemical burns at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, said Kristin LaMaire, administrative assistant to the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner.
South Lyon police responded to an emergency call at about 12:21 p.m. to the manufacturing facility at 400 McMunn St., Police Chief Chris Sovik said. The employees placed Hill under a safety shower, and medics then transported him to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.
“He was speaking when we were there,” Vogel said. “He was walking and talking. Unfortunately, he passed. It was pretty extreme burns.”
It was unclear how Hill ended up in the vat and how long it was before he was rescued, he said.
The co-workers who assisted Hill sustained burns to their hands, Vogel said. Medics treated them at the scene.
Mark Hommel, a Michigan Seamless spokesman who works in human resources, described Hill as “a valued employee” who was with the company since April 2017. He said the company is conducting a “comprehensive investigation” and is “cooperating fully” with the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA) investigation.
Pardeep Toor, public information officer for the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department, said MIOSHA’s investigation of the incident has begun.
“MIOSHA cannot provide information on an open investigation,” he said. “Typically, this type of investigation may take several weeks or months to complete.”
Michigan Seamless Tube, one of South Lyon’s largest employers, has had seven workplace safety violations since 2012, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, with fines totaling $93,000.
Michigan Seamless Tube is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hammond, Indiana-based Specialty Steels Works Inc. The company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017 and renamed from Optima Specialty Steel. It also owns steel manufacturers Niagara LaSalle Corp. in Hammond and Corey Steel Co. in Cicero, Illinois.