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Region 1 News Release: 10-1713-BOS/BOS 2010-499
Dec. 14, 2010
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
E-mail: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

Salisbury, Mass., contractor faces $44,000 in fines from US Labor
Department's OSHA after explosion injures worker

ANDOVER, Mass. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited SPS New England with 11 alleged serious violations of safety standards following a July 15 explosion at the company's maintenance facility in Salisbury, Mass., that injured a worker. The Salisbury-based construction contractor faces a total of $44,000 in proposed fines, chiefly for deficiencies in welding procedures and safeguards.

The employee was performing welding on a pontoon boat when the hot work ignited vapors from within the boat's interior. OSHA found that the boat had not been adequately ventilated to ensure the escape of flammable gasses before welding; welding had been performed in the presence of an explosive atmosphere; guards had not been set up to confine heat, sparks and slag; combustibles were not properly shielded; a welding area and procedures had not been established; authorization had not been secured for the welding; a fire watch was not provided; no individual had been designated to authorize and oversee the welding; and the work area had not been adequately inspected beforehand. In addition, there were electrical hazards stemming from damaged welding cables and an ungrounded extension cord.

"This incident graphically shows what can and does happen when proper welding preparations and procedures are not followed," said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's area director for Essex and Middlesex counties in Massachusetts. "While it is fortunate that this worker was not killed, he was needlessly injured. This incident should not have occurred."

A serious citation is issued 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. Information on welding, cutting and brazing hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/weldingcuttingbrazing/index.html.

SPS New England has 15 business days from receipt of its current citations to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Andover Area Office, telephone 978-837-4460. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

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 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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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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 http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


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