Fire Brings Fines for Machine Shop

Monday, December 1, 2014 @ 02:12 PM gHale

What began as a fire in a titanium dust collection system at a precision machining shop in Vernon, CT, ended up in fines of $59,290 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Soldream Inc. is facing the fines for 20 serious safety and health violations, OSHA said.

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“In addition to fire and explosion hazards, workers at this facility faced serious cuts and amputations, electrocution, illnesses and other serious injuries due to a lack of safeguards,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford, CT. “Clearly, worker safety and health were not the priorities they should have been. Soldream must quickly and effectively address these issues for the health and well-being of its employees.”

A workbench in the finishing room of the facility caught fire on May 19, while an employee cleaned titanium aircraft parts.

OSHA found the design of the bench was not for working with titanium and the bench and the room’s dust collection system lacked adequate fire and explosion controls. Flammable titanium dust had also settled on electrical equipment.

Additional fire hazards stemmed from the lack of sprinklers and fire safeguards in spray booths where flammable liquid ended up sprayed on parts, and employees did not have hands-on training to use portable fire extinguishers.

OSHA also found employees in the spray finishing operation, who worked with the hazardous chemical molybdenum sulfide, lacked adequate respiratory protection. The workers had not undergone medical evaluations and fit testing for respirators or adequately trained in their use.

For employees who worked with liquid nitrogen, the company did not evaluate the need for and ensure the use of eye and face protection. In addition, containers of hazardous chemicals did not have proper labeling, and workers did not have adequate training on the hazards associated with these chemicals.

In addition, several milling machines had inoperative or bypassed interlock mechanisms, which allowed them to operate with their access doors open. This exposed employees to the potential of the machines catching them.

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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