Jan. 30, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has completed its investigation of an Aug. 3, 2006, steam explosion in Endicott, N.Y., that killed one employee and seriously injured another. The accident occurred in Building 14 of the Huron Real Estate Associates campus located at 1701 North St. while two maintenance employees were working on a high pressure steam line.
OSHA's investigation found that a leaking valve allowed water to collect in a section of piping that had been closed off from the steam system. When steam was reintroduced into that section of the piping, it combined with the water to create a "water hammer" that traveled along the piping to where the two employees were working and exploded.
"When steam and water mix, the increased pressure can shoot through the system, rupturing it with great force, as happened in this case," said Chris R. Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "Proper procedures that could have prevented this accident were not developed, followed or provided to the employees."
The company specifically failed to develop and train employees on procedures to effectively lock out the high pressure steam system, including making certain the steam valve was fully closed to prevent leakage, checking for water in the steam line and draining any water buildup before restoring steam to the pipeline.
OSHA issued three serious citations to Huron Real Estate Associates for these conditions. A fourth serious citation, unrelated to the accident, was issued for two valve handles that protruded into an exit path. A total of $8,750 in fines has been proposed for the four citations. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and fines to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's area office in Syracuse, located at 3300 Vickery Road, North Syracuse, telephone: (315) 451-0808.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov.
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