Oct. 5, 2015
OSHA finds improperly equipped furnace led to deadly explosion
at TIMET's Morgantown, Pennsylvania, manufacturing plant
MORGANTOWN, Pa. - A 27-year-old furnace worker was killed in an explosion when a boiler lid 20 feet in diameter flew off inside the TIMET titanium manufacturing plant on 900 Hemlock Road in Morgantown. The lid struck Jacob Lopez and injured three other employees in the March 27, 2015, incident.
Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the plant on March 28, 2015. The agency determined that the electron beam furnace was not equipped with the proper vacuum/pressure gauge to detect and prevent the buildup of hydrogen gas, which could have prevented the explosion. OSHA issued eight serious - including two general duty clause citations - and one other-than-serious citation on September 25, 2015.
"TIMET's electron beam furnace system had a history of problems, including an incident that occurred about a month prior to the fatal March explosion that significantly damaged the equipment," said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA's Harrisburg Area Office. "The employer clearly knew the potential for serious harm existed, but chose to do nothing. This resulted in damage to the facility and, tragically, the death of Jacob Lopez."
The general duty clause citations included the furnace violation and storage racks not fastened properly to the floor. OSHA cited TIMET for serious violations, which included unguarded machinery, unmaintained exit routes and electrical hazards. The other-than-serious citation was due to an obstructed exit sign.
Proposed penalties total $42,000.
To view the citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TIMET_1065616.pdf*
Titanium Metals Corp. does business as TIMET. The company produces mill and melted titanium products at facilities in the U.S. and Europe, and supplies nearly one-fifth of the world's titanium.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Harrisburg office at 717-782-3902.
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 ensure 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.
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Release Number: 15-1914-PHI (osha 15-087)
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