OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited Luna Tech, Inc., and proposed penalties totaling $116,200 following a flash fire and explosion at the company's Alabama plant.
According to John Hall, OSHA's Birmingham area director, OSHA has inspected Luna Tech's Owens Cross Roads facility before, most recently in Sept. 1999 after an explosion killed one employee and hospitalized two others.
Hall explained that the present inspection began in response to a March 16th media report concerning a flash fire and explosion at the same plant. The fire destroyed a small building and injured the company's owner who received severe burns to his face and hands.
Following inspection of the accident, OSHA cited Luna Tech for two willful violations with proposed penalties of $56,000 each. The willful citations were issued for preparing an explosive dry powder mixture wearing inappropriate protective equipment and for having unapproved electrical equipment in a hazardous area where its use is prohibited.
Luna Tech's failure to perform a workplace hazard assessment resulted in one additional serious violation with a proposed penalty of $4,200.
"This company's own health and safety manual, as well as material safety data sheets from other sources, follow OSHA regulations and industry practice requiring employees to wear protective equipment when working with corrosive liquids or harmful chemicals," said Hall. "Yet, the owner chose to ignore those requirements."
Hall added, "There is no excuse for this employer's indifference to safety precautions." The area director explained, "The screening process for mixing the dry chemicals is accomplished using an electrical shaker which, in this instance, was not officially approved as safe; the building's outlets and thermostat were also not approved for combustible dust operations, and finally, 11 of the 21 serious citations issued following our inspection last September related to the safe handling of chemical substances."
Luna Tech employs approximately 64 workers, 55 of whom are at the Owens Cross Roads location. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OH Act and regulations.
A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Inspection of Luna Tech's Alabama plant was conducted by OSHA's area office located at Vestavia Village, 2047 Canyon Rd., Birmingham, Ala. 35216; telephone: (205) 731-1534.
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