Explosives Maker Fined after Blast

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 @ 06:07 PM gHale


Explosives manufacturer Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company is facing $293,235 in fines for multiple safety violations after an explosion in Hollister, CA, that seriously injured a worker, said officials at the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA).

On December 1, 2016, a technician was preparing explosives in metal tubing, known as Small Column Insulated Delays (SCIDs), for neutron radiation analysis. She had mounted 79 SCIDs onto aluminum support brackets attached to an aluminum metal tray. While attempting to apply tape to secure the SCIDs to the tray, 75 of the 79 tubes exploded. The explosion sent metal shrapnel flying in all directions, seriously injuring the technician.

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Inspectors found Pacific Scientific failed to take the steps necessary to protect the worker from explosive hazards. The willful serious violations included the employer’s failure to:
• Protect the employee’s workstation from the explosive tubes in the holder, despite Pacific Scientific’s own manufacturing procedures that require the use of a safety shield when working with the loaded holders
• Identify, evaluate and control hazards associated with handling the explosive tubes during their manufacture
• Provide clear written instructions on how to mount the SCIDs safely to a metal tray for required analysis

“This explosives manufacturer put employees at risk by failing to follow their own safety procedures, and unfortunately a worker was seriously injured,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.

As a result of the inspection, Cal/OSHA cited Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company for nine workplace safety and health violations, three of them in the willful-serious category with four serious and two general.

A willful violation is issued where evidence shows that the employer committed an intentional and knowing violation—as distinguished from inadvertent, accidental or ordinarily negligent—and the employer was conscious of what it was doing constituted a violation, or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to eliminate the hazard.

A serious violation is cited when there was a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazardous condition.



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