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Region 1 News Release:   BOS 99-036
Wednesday, March 10, 1999
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE : (617) 565-2074

LOWELL, MASS., COMPANY CITED BY OSHA FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL & SERIOUS WORKPLACE SAFETY VIOLATIONS; $160,000 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED AGAINST BRADFORD INDUSTRIES FOLLOWING TWO FIRES AND EXPLOSION

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited Bradford Industries of Lowell, Massachusetts, for alleged WILLFUL and SERIOUS violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and has proposed penalties totaling $160,000 for those violations.

According to K. Frank Gravitt, OSHA's area director for northeastern Massachusetts in Methuen, the citations are the result of two inspections of the company's facilities located at 75 Rogers Street in Lowell. The first inspection was initiated in response to a fire incident at the facility on September 16, 1998, while the second resulted from an explosion and fire which occurred at the same facility on October 28, 1998. The second incident (the explosion) resulted in serious injuries to one employee, including severe burns and other injuries.

Gravitt noted that Bradford Industries produces a variety of coated materials including the fabric used in the manufacture of safety air bags in passenger cars. The company employs 138 workers at its Lowell plant.

"This employer," said Gravitt, "was well aware of the fact that the particular operation involved in the explosion and fires included serious hazards related to the buildup of flammable vapors in the drying ovens. Our investigation showed that the local fire department has responded repeatedly to fires in the facility related to this operation. Furthermore, our investigation revealed that the employer purposely decided not to repair malfunctioning safety devices, which could have detected the flammable vapor buildup and prevented the explosion which severely injured an employee."

For these and other reasons, Gravitt noted, OSHA is citing the company for alleged willful and serious safety violations as follows:

One alleged WILLFUL violation, carrying a proposed penalty of $56,000, for: During the process of rollcoating using flammable materials, the employer was not in compliance with the applicable National Fire Protection Association standard, and did not have an adequate safety device in good working order, properly maintained and not bypassed; and did not have the ventilation system interlocked with the operation of the drying ovens and the conveyor system.

Forty-three alleged SERIOUS, violations, including proposed penalties totaling $104,000, for:

    Open containers of flammables and containers with loose covers and no grounding.

    Dispensing/ transferring class I flammable liquids with no bonding.

    No written emergency response plan where significant quantities of flammable liquids may cause emergency situation in a spill.

    Employees handling solvents and toluene soaked rags not provided and not using gloves.

    Employees exposed to splashing of solvents not provided or using protective eye equipment.

    Containers of solvents not labeled with container contents, and container of solvents not labeled with appropriate hazard warnings.

    Employer did not have material safety data sheet for SD-6657 (coating solution involved in oven fire at the facility on 9/16/98).

    Employees were exposed to fire hazards in that flammable storage rooms did not meet appropriate safety requirements.

    Fork truck was used with a platform to lift personnel and was not equipped with midrails and independent controls on the platform and the platform was not secured to the forks.

    No standard railing on stairways.

    Locked exit in the cooling room with sign stating to break lock in the event of an emergency.

    No second means of egress from the maintenance shop.

    No side hinged swinging doors for emergency egress in the Ink Room.

    Exit discharge to a ladder in lieu of a stairway or ramp.

    Exits not marked with a readily visible sign, and doors that were not an exit were not marked "NOT AN EXIT."

    Compressed gas cylinders stored in a main aisle where fork trucks are operated.

    No emergency venting device on portable tanks containing flammable liquids.

    Storage cabinets for flammable liquids not designed for minimal fire resistance.

    More than 120 gallons of Class IB, IC, II, and III liquids stored outside flammable storage rooms or cabinets.

    Industrial Washing Machine Corp. drum washer using flammable liquids did not have electrical wiring conforming to Class I, Division 1.

    Rags soaked with flammable liquid (toluene) were not disposed of in covered metal receptacles and disposed of daily.

    No safety instruction sign provided warning that smoking was prohibited in the Urethane Room and Ink Room.

    No evaluation of hazards and no air testing or monitoring prior to an employee entry into an oven (confined space).

    Safe permit space entry procedures were not developed and implemented, and no permit system used for entry into confined spaces.

    No training for employees entering confined spaces.

    No coordination with local rescue or any other group to provide rescue to employees entering confined spaces.

    Where corrosives are used the eye washes did not function all the time depending on the time of day and the city water pressure.

    Fire extinguishers were not mounted and readily accessible.

    Fork truck aisles were not kept clear in that they were partially obstructed with flammable and combustible liquids.

    Rolls of vinyl stored on racks were not blocked to prevent them from rolling.

    Propane powered fork trucks and electric pallet jacks were used in areas where flammable liquids are used and they are not approved for use in those atmospheres.

    Fork trucks were not operated a safe distance from edges in that the fork trucks were driven to the edge of the open dock.

    Rotating parts and in-running nip points were not guarded on a bandsaw and belt sander, respectively.

    No guard on Delta 10 inch table saw where drive belt runs onto the pulley.

    No magnetic switch on Delta 10 inch table saw.

    Compressed air used for cleaning was measured to be between 90 and 110 psi.

    Automotive clamps were used to connect compressed air hoses and were not designed for the pressure and service to which they were subjected.

    Electrical conduit was not being used as listed and labeled in that it was being used as the structural support for a chain fall.

    Circuit breaker panel boxes were not marked with the manufacturer's identification or electrical ratings.

    Circuit breakers were not marked to indicate which circuits they controlled.

    Material was stored in front of circuit breaker and electrical switch boxes.

    Exposed live parts on 440v switch box to oven and oven temperature charting equipment; unused openings in boxes were not effectively closed; conductors entering junction box were not protected from sharp edge of the knockout opening; no cover on junction box; no faceplate on outlet box; no dead front on panel box.

    Flexible cords used in lieu of fixed wiring.

"Employers in hazardous industries know full well their responsibilities to provide their employees with a safe and healthful workplace, and this one is no exception. There is simply no excuse for the conditions we found at Bradford Industries," said Gravitt.

He urged Northeastern Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Methuen. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.

A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations, while a serious violation is defined as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

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 jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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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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