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Region 1 USDL 04-1296-BOS /BOS 2004-160
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074

OSHA Cites Two Maine Employers Following Explosion

AUGUSTA, Maine -- A Jan. 9, 2004, explosion at an Orrington, Maine, trash-to-energy plant that cost a worker his left hand could have been prevented if proper procedures for protecting workers had been followed, reports the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA has issued citations and proposed penalties for alleged violations of safety standards to PSC Industrial Outsourcing North Atlantic Inc. of Portland, an industrial cleaning and maintenance service, and ESOCO Orrington Inc., which operates the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company's trash-to-energy plant in Orrington.

"Strong enforcement has been one of the keys to this Administration's success in reducing workplace injuries and illnesses," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant penalties of $122,000 proposed in this case demonstrate our commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers."

ESOCO had hired PSC to remove slag from boiler tubes at the plant. In the deslagging process, a "shooter" places primed explosive charges in the boiler. After the "shooter" exits the boiler, the charges are then detonated from outside by a second worker. The accident occurred when one charge was detonated while the worker was still placing charges inside the boiler.

OSHA's inspection found that PSC did not require the shooter to leave the tank before each detonation, even though a PSC employee had been killed in a similar incident in Alma, Wisc., in Aug. 2001 and the company was aware that OSHA standards and industry practice require workers to leave the tank before detonation. As a result, OSHA has issued a willful citation to PSC, carrying the maximum fine of $70,000, for failing to remove the worker from inside the boiler prior to each detonation. A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.

PSC was also issued eleven serious citations, carrying $41,000 in fines, for allowing workers to make and store explosive components in the only path of egress and make up more primed charges than required, not protecting employees against noise during explosions, not providing barricades and a pre-blast warning signal, fall hazards, inadequate communication between employees working in and outside the boiler and confined space hazards.

ESOCO Orrington was issued four serious citations, with fines of $11,000, for not ensuring barricades, warning signs and a pre-blast signal, not inspecting self contained breathing apparatus monthly and not having a written exposure control program for bloodborne pathogens. A serious violation is defined as a condition that exists where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

Each employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by the OSHA's Augusta area office. The telephone number is (207) 626-9160.

The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses, and protecting the health and safety of America's workers. In FY 2003, OSHA conducted almost 40,000 inspections, and more than half focused on high-hazard industries. For more information visit


The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) . Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor 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

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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