Region 1 News Release: 10-997-BOS/BOS 2010-323
Mon., July 26, 2010
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $250,000 in fines against
two employers following explosion at Nashua, NH, manufacturing plant
CONCORD, N.H. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Worthen Industries Inc., a Nashua, N.H., manufacturer of glues and adhesives, and S.L. Chasse Welding & Fabrication Inc., a Hudson, N.H., steel erection contractor, for alleged violations of workplace safety standards following a Jan. 23 explosion at Worthen's manufacturing plant on East Spit Brook Road. Combined penalties against the two employers total $257,500.
The explosion occurred when flammable vapors ignited while Chasse workers were installing a new motor on a vessel used in the plant's manufacturing process. OSHA found that Worthen had not cleaned the vessel thoroughly enough to ensure the absence of flammable materials or vapors, and had not vented it prior to allowing welding to be performed. As a result, OSHA issued Worthen one willful citation with a proposed fine of $63,000. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
"Welding should not have been permitted until all feasible steps had been taken to remove flammable materials and the potential for ignition," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director for New Hampshire. "This problem combined with numerous additional safety and health hazards identified at the Worthen plant account for the sizable proposed fines."
OSHA identified numerous other hazards at the plant including an incomplete and inadequate process safety management program, fall hazards from an unguarded mezzanine and floor openings, accumulations of ice on exit stairs, a variety of electrical hazards, lack of personal protective equipment and tools, an incomplete and inadequate respiratory protection program, inadequate chemical hazard communication, not conducting initial monitoring for employee exposure to formaldehyde and methylene chloride, and incomplete illness and injury logs. These conditions resulted in 48 serious and five other-than-serious citations for Worthen with $162,400 in additional fines. A serious citation is issued 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. Worthen's fines total $225,400.
S.L. Chasse was cited for inadequately training its workers to recognize potential chemical, fire, explosion or toxic release hazards and appropriate protective work practices, and allowing welding to be performed where a flammable atmosphere was present. Other citations addressed lack of fall protection and machine guarding, and incomplete injury and illness logs. These conditions resulted in eight serious and six other-than-serious citations, with $32,100 in fines for Chasse.
Each employer has 15 business days from receipt of citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Concord Area Office; telephone 603-225-1629. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.