Combustible Dust Hazard at Auto Plant

Friday, October 17, 2014 @ 05:10 PM gHale


Workers suffered exposure to combustible dust, amputation and other serious hazards at Hurst Auto-Truck Electric Ltd. in Cleveland, OH, and the company is now facing fines of $62,300, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA cited the company for 15 serious safety and health violations after an inspection. The plant specializes in chrome plating and powder-coating finished accessories for the automotive industry.

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“Combustible dust can burn rapidly and explode with little warning, putting workers at risk for severe injury and death,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “OSHA’s inspection found that Hurst Auto-Truck Electric failed to maintain areas free of combustible dust and used ignition in areas where combustible dust was present. When the stakes are so high, employers must recognize and eliminate these hazards.”

OSHA’s March 17 inspection found workers suffered exposure to combustible aluminum and steel dust while they worked in the facility. If this dust ends up suspended in the air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. The force from such an explosion can cause death, injury and destruction of buildings. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, another 718 injured and extensive damage to numerous industrial facilities.

Additional serious violations were for amputation hazards, including lack of machine guarding and failure to implement specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from operating during service and maintenance.

Hurst Auto-Truck Electric also did not administer a hearing conservation program, conduct workplace hazard assessments, ensure workers used personal protective equipment, provide portable fire extinguisher training, or provide information and training to employees on hazardous chemicals used in the plant.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.



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