May 7, 2007
Contact: Brad Mitchell
MILWAUKEE -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $56,000 in fines against industrial gear manufacturer Rexnord Industries and $16,800 against J.M. Brennan Inc., both based in Milwaukee, for alleged serious violations of federal workplace safety standards following a gas explosion last year that claimed three lives.
A large explosion and fire occurred Dec. 6, 2006, at the Rexnord plant at 3001 W. Canal St. in Milwaukee during an operational test of a back-up propane gas system. An underground leak allowed gas to escape and ignite. OSHA's investigation resulted in eight serious violations of safety standards issued to Rexnord pertaining to employee and emergency training and response, failing to protect underground liquid propane piping from corrosion, and failure to conduct a site analysis to identify hazardous conditions and minimize employee exposure to explosion hazards.
OSHA also issued three serious violations to J.M. Brennan Inc. for its improper installation of underground liquid propane piping at the facility, as well as training and emergency response deficiencies.
"It is impossible to overstate the necessity for caution and adherence to safety regulations in dealing with volatile gas," said OSHA's Area Director George Yoksas in Milwaukee.
The companies have 15 working days to respond to the alleged violations and penalties.
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 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 www.osha.gov.
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