Trade News Release
Monday, October 30, 2000
Contact: Bill Wright
PHONE: (202) 693-1999
Explosion kills one employee, seriously injures another
OSHA CITES FLORIDA EXPLOSIVES MANUFACTURER FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS; PROPOSES PENALTIES OF MORE THAN $800,000
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited a pyrotechnics manufacturer in Perry, Fla., for safety and health violations following investigation of an explosion and fire that claimed the life of one employee and seriously injured another. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $832,000.
MEI Holdings, Inc., (doing business as Martin Electronics) was cited for 60 alleged safety and health violations at the Perry facility. The May 1 explosion completely destroyed one building used for drying a wet composition of potentially volatile chemicals. The composition is part of the manufacturing process of infrared decoy flares. Both victims were outside the building when it exploded.
"The death of one employee on the job is one too many," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "And yet this company has experienced five fatalities in the last five years because of explosions or flash fires. The employees at this company must be afforded a safe work environment. We will take serious enforcement action against this company and others who do not make safety a priority."
MEI Holdings employs 285 workers at the Perry facility. The company manufactures and supplies military pyrotechnics/explosives to the Department of Defense. OSHA's investigation revealed that the chemical composition in the building - including magnesium, Teflon, Hycar and hexane - created volatile vapors requiring an explosion proof electrical system designed to minimize the risk of fire or explosion. It was also determined that MEI had not evaluated and taken remedial action for existing hazardous conditions, required by OSHA's process safety management (PSM) standard.
"What we found to be most troubling," said Jeffress, "was that the same manufacturing process used by MEI on May 1 produced a similar explosion just a few months earlier. We've inspected this company 11 times; they're fully aware of safety and health standards impacting their industry. Still, they're reluctant to adhere to the very basics of worker safety. As a result, workers are paying with their lives."
OSHA issued five alleged willful instance-by-instance violations for the use of damaged personal protective equipment by five separate employees. A total of $350,000 in proposed penalties was assessed. Additionally, two alleged willful instance-by-instance violations were issued for failure to provide approved electrical systems and equipment for two buildings. A penalty of $140,000 was assessed. Three other alleged willful violations of OSHA's PSM standard were issued with a total penalty of $195,000. (The PSM standard establishes requirements to prevent, or minimize, the potential for fire or explosion caused by dangerous chemicals).
OSHA also issued 38 alleged serious violations of various standards including hazard communication, training, lockout/tagout, medical services/first aid, machine guarding, electrical wiring and equipment, flammable and combustible liquids, PSM, dipping and coating operations and portable fire extinguishers. Penalties assessed for the alleged serious violations totaled $138,000. Finally, a total of $9,000 in penalties was assessed for 12 alleged other-than-serious violations involving occupational noise exposure, PSM, respiratory protection, sanitation, recordkeeping and reportability requirements, and access to employee medical records.
A willful violation is defined as one committed with an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
MEI Holdings, Inc., has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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This news release text is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.