US Labor Department's OSHA fines Austin Powder Co. $258,000 for
multiple safety and health violations at McArthur, Ohio, explosives factory
McARTHUR, Ohio – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Austin Powder Co. with 51 health and safety violations carrying proposed fines of $258,000 for multiple violations of OSHA's standards for process safety management at facilities that use highly hazardous chemicals. The McArthur facility produces commercial explosives for the construction and mining industries.
"By disregarding OSHA's common-sense standards, this employer endangered the facility's workers," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director for its Columbus office. "OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially those exposed to hazardous materials, and educating employers about safety and health regulations."
The OSHA inspection was initiated Dec. 12, 2012, under the Site Specific Targeting Plan, which targets companies that record a higher than average incident and illness rate. A secondary inspection was conducted under the national emphasis program for covered chemical facilities.
Twenty-three serious violations related to process safety management include failing to correct deficiencies found in compliance audits; failing to have operating procedures address consequences of deviation from operating limits, including steps to avoid or correct deviation from such limits; and not following generally accepted good engineering practices for inspection and testing procedures.
An additional 24 serious violations involve inadequate labeling of hazardous chemical containers, not developing energy control procedures for the maintenance and servicing of equipment, lack of machine guarding and fall protection, as well as violations of electrical safety standards. A serious violation occurs 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.
Four other-than-serious violations involve failing to identify the worker who applied a lockout device, not effectively closing unused openings in electrical cabinets and boxes and not including the properties and hazards presented by process chemicals in written operating procedures. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
The facility was inspected in 2009 after an explosion that resulted in three workers hospitalized, one of whom died from injuries received. Five serious citations were issued. A 2010 follow-up inspection found no violations.
The current citations may be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Austin_Powder_Company_782861_0606_13.pdf* http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Austin_Powder_Company_783282_0606_13.pdf*.
Austin Powder, headquartered in Cleveland, employs 225 workers at the McArthur facility, and also operates facilities in Camden, Ark., Brownsville, Texas, and Valle Hermosa, Mexico.
More information about OSHA's standards for the management of hazards associated with processes involving highly hazardous chemicals is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html.
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 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 Columbus Area Office at 614-469-5582.
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 exist 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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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.