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Region 1 News Release:   BOS 99-160
Tuesday, August 24, 1999
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald/John Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2074/2075

JAHN FOUNDRY CORP. TO PAY $148,500 PENALTY, CORRECT HAZARDS AND ESTABLISH COMPREHENSIVE SAFETY AND HEALTH PROGRAM AT ITS MASSACHUSETTS PLANTS FOLLOWING FEBRUARY CATASTROPHIC DUST EXPLOSION

Jahn Foundry Corporation, of Springfield, Mass., has agreed to correct safety and health hazards at its Springfield foundry, pay a $148,500 penalty and take significant steps to improve safety and health at all its Massachusetts facilities under an agreement announced today by the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Following a six-month comprehensive OSHA inspection of the Springfield foundry conducted in the wake of a February 25, 1999, catastrophic dust explosion in the foundry's Shell Mold Building which resulted in the deaths of three workers and serious injuries to nine others, OSHA today cited the company for a total of forty safety and health violations and assessed a fine of $148,500.

Under the terms of today's settlement, which was entered into upon acceptance of the citations, Jahn Foundry Corp. agrees to pay the full penalty proposed by OSHA, correct all hazards identified in the inspection, institute a comprehensive safety and health program, with management accountability, for all aspects of its operations at all it Massachusetts facilities, utilize state-of-the-art equipment and systems in rebuilding its Shell Mold department and issue a clear written policy on safe and healthful working conditions to all current and future employees.

"This settlement agreement goes beyond simple correction of the hazards cited by OSHA in its inspection," said Ruth McCully, OSHA regional administrator for New England. "It establishes a foundation and a framework for ongoing improvements at all of Jahn's Bay State facilities to not only prevent another catastrophic event, but also provide a safer, healthier work environment for all company workers. The agreement holds Jahn to specific deadlines and provides OSHA with the tools and access necessary to track progress and compliance. It also means that corrective action by the company can start immediately, without its being delayed by potentially lengthy litigation."

In addition to OSHA's comprehensive safety and health inspection of the Springfield foundry, a concurrent joint investigation into the cause and origin of the February fire and explosion was conducted by OSHA, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' State Fire Marshal's Office and the Springfield Fire Department's Arson and Bomb Squad. That investigation concluded that an initiating fire event in a shell mold station entered the station's exhaust system, whose interior ductwork was heavily coated with deposits of combustible phenol formaldehyde resin. The ignition of this dust caused a turbulent fire and explosion(s) which traveled through the interior ductwork and in turn shook down explosive concentrations of combustible resin dust that had collected on surfaces throughout the Shell Mold Building. When the fire exploded out from the ductwork, it ignited these airborne concentrations of combustible dust, causing a catastrophic dust explosion which lifted the building's roof and blew out its walls.

CITATIONS

"Two of the citations issued by OSHA today specifically address conditions related to the fire and explosion," said Ronald E. Morin, OSHA area director in Springfield. "Namely, failure to regularly clean up large accumulations of combustible resin dust in the exhaust system's interior ductwork and on surfaces throughout the Shell Mold Building, and failure to adequately maintain the fuel train devices which delivered the proper mixture of oxygen and natural gas to the shell molding machines."

"The joint fire investigation found that the Shell Mold Department had not been subject to a thorough cleaning in over two years and the exhaust ducts had not received any interior cleaning in over six years, thus allowing significant buildup of the combustible resin dust," said Kipp W. Hartmann, who coordinated OSHA's on-scene response to the February fire and explosion. "The failure to properly maintain the fuel trains on the eight shell mold machines allowed for potential localized gas fire or explosions within the shell mold stations. Proper maintenance of the fuel trains would have minimized the possibility of this sort of ignition event in the first place, while prompt and regular removal of combustible accumulations of resin dust would have eliminated the possibility of an isolated ignition event mushrooming into a catastrophic explosion."

OSHA's inspection also identified an additional thirty-eight violations in other areas of the foundry which, though unrelated to the fire and explosion, would pose a hazard to employee safety or health if left uncorrected.

These citations address instances of: a crane being operated with damaged running ropes and obstructed operator vision; unguarded or inadequately guarded moving parts on a variety of machines; lack of guardrails or equivalent fall protection at different locations; damaged fork trucks not removed from use; unapproved electrical equipment used in wet locations, ungrounded or unlabeled electrical equipment; noise monitoring not conducted when required; various deficiencies in the provision, use or fit-testing of respirators, deficiencies in the company's program for handling emergencies in permit-required confined spaces; and employees exposed to excessive levels of coal tar pitch volatiles, silica and a mixture of ammonia, phenol and formaldehyde where feasible engineering controls had not been implemented to reduce those exposure levels.

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

Under the settlement agreement, Jahn Foundry Corp. agrees that it has corrected or will correct by specified abatement dates, all hazards cited during OSHA's comprehensive safety and health inspection of the Springfield foundry. The company also agrees it will not contest the citations and penalties and will pay the $148,500 penalty, the full amount proposed by OSHA, by September 1, 1999. It also agrees to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act and any applicable new OSHA safety or health standards in the future.

The company also agrees to implement a comprehensive safety and health program by October 1, 1999, for all its operations. The program will include, but not be limited to:

  • Employing a fulltime safety and health manager.
  • Establishing a preventive maintenance program which includes a database for checking occurrence, frequency and repair of all maintenance problems, including provisions to ensure proper operation of shell molding fuel trains and prevention of accumulation of explosive resin dust.
  • A written affirmation by Jahn's President of the fundamental importance of worker safety and health through the issuance of a clear policy on safe and healthful working conditions to all current employees and new hires.
  • Establishing clear safety and health goals for management, with clear responsibilities, goals and accountability, and overseen by senior management.
  • Committing sufficient resources and personnel to:
    • conduct annual safety and health program reviews to improve the company's ability to identify and correct hazards;
    • conduct quarterly worksite inspections to identify and eliminate specific hazards;
    • provide for employee safety ands health training, primarily to address conditions and hazards cited in safety and health inspections.

In addition, in rebuilding its shell mold department, Jahn Foundry Corp. shall utilize state-of-the-art equipment and systems with particular attention to safety and health features. Any ventilation system will be designed and approved by a certified ventilation engineer and all shell molding stations and associated ventilation will conform to National Fire Protection Association guidelines. The company will also examine its other shell molding operations and equipment and systems replaced to conform to state-of-the-art no later than November 1, 1999.

The company will also allow OSHA reasonable access to all company facilities to conduct inspections to evaluate progress and compliance under the agreement.

Jahn Foundry Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Atchison Casting Corporation of Atchison, Kansas, produces small to medium sized ferrous castings at its Springfield facility. which is located at 115 Stevens Street in Springfield.

OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and job sites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.

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The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.


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.


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