Safety Fines for Explosives Maker

Friday, June 7, 2013 @ 01:06 PM gHale


An explosives company is in hot water for 51 health and safety violations.

Austin Powder Co. is facing $258,000 in fines for 51 health and safety violations for multiple violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for process safety management at facilities that use highly hazardous chemicals, officials said.

The McArthur, OH, facility produces commercial explosives for the construction and mining industries.

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“By disregarding OSHA’s common-sense standards, this employer endangered the facility’s workers,” said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA’s area director for its Columbus office. “OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially those exposed to hazardous materials, and educating employers about safety and health regulations.”

The OSHA inspection was on Dec. 12, under the Site Specific Targeting Plan, which targets companies that record a higher than average incident and illness rate. A secondary inspection occurred under the national emphasis program for covered chemical facilities.

Twenty-three serious violations related to process safety management include failing to correct deficiencies found in compliance audits; failing to have operating procedures address consequences of deviation from operating limits, including steps to avoid or correct deviation from such limits; and not following generally accepted good engineering practices for inspection and testing procedures.

An additional 24 serious violations involve inadequate labeling of hazardous chemical containers, not developing energy control procedures for the maintenance and servicing of equipment, lack of machine guarding and fall protection, as well as violations of electrical safety standards. 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.

Four other-than-serious violations involve failing to identify the worker who applied a lockout device, not effectively closing unused openings in electrical cabinets and boxes and not including the properties and hazards presented by process chemicals in written operating procedures. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The facility ended up inspected in 2009 after an explosion that resulted in three workers hospitalized, one of whom died from injuries received. OSHA then issued 5 serious citations. A 2010 follow-up inspection found no violations.

Austin Powder, headquartered in Cleveland, employs 225 workers at the McArthur facility, and also operates facilities in Camden, Ark., Brownsville, Texas, and Valle Hermosa, Mexico.



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