Region 3 News Release: III-01-08-10-079-NWP
Fri., Aug. 10, 2001
Contact: Kate Dugan
Office: (215) 861-5101
After Hours: (610) 522-9484
OSHA CITES MT. JEWETT COMPANY AFTER FATAL EXPLOSION
ERIE, Pa. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited Temple-Inland Forest Products, Inc., of Mt. Jewett, Pa. for alleged violations of safety and health standards and proposed $248,400 in penalties. The inspection was initiated on Feb. 14, 2001 after an explosion and subsequent fire seriously burned 10 employees, three of whom died.
OSHA issued three willful violations, with a proposed penalty of $189,000 and 16 serious violations with a penalty of $59,400.
"The alleged willful violations address the company failure to prevent excessive accumulations of wood dust, failure to shut down a conveyor that carried sparks to other combustibles and unapproved electrical service in restricted areas," said John Stranahan, area director of the Erie OSHA office. "Wood dust is recognized as the single greatest hazard for fire and explosion in the particleboard manufacturing industry."
Dust levels throughout portions of the plant were documented in some locations between four and six inches. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that wood dust not exceed one-eight of an inch.
The alleged serious violations include various fire and explosion hazards, inhibited means of egress, unguarded machines, deficiencies in hot work permit program, electrical hazards and a fork truck not approved for locations with combustible dust or excessive accumulations of fine wood dust.
Two other companies were also cited during the fatality inspection:
McGill AirClean Company, Columbus, Ohio - four alleged serious violations with a proposed penalty of $10,000 for failing to develop a fire protection program; not inspecting hot work areas; performing hot work near combustibles; and not providing fire extinguishing equipment.
K.W.I. Building Company, Johnstown, Pa. - five alleged serious violations with a proposed penalty of $6,600 for lack a fire protection program; hot work inspections; hot work near combustibles; not providing a means to confine sparks; and not providing fire extinguishing equipment.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations. Serious violations are defined as those in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The inspection was conducted by the Erie OSHA office, Suite B-12, 3939 West Ridge Rd., Erie, Pa. 16506, telephone number (814) 833-5758.
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