Waukegan, IL- An OSHA investigation into the deaths of four employees of an Illinois chemical plant has resulted in more than a million dollars in proposed penalties against AB Specialty Silicones LLC.
The company has been cited for a dozen willful federal safety violations in the explosion and fire at its Waukegan facility on May 3, 2019 that caused deaths of four employees.
The silicon chemical products manufacturer faces $1,591,176 in penalties and has been placed in the in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA investigators determined AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids, and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition.
Ontario, Canada- September 19th was Black Thursday in Ontario’s electrical sector with three separate incidents of workers contacting overhead wires causing two electrocution deaths and injuring two others.
The spate of mishaps left construction, electrical and health and safety stakeholders upset, frustrated and searching for answers.
“The Electrical Safety Authority is very saddened to hear any time there are incidents of an electrical nature,” said Dr. Joel Moody, the ESA’s chief public safety officer. “Our thoughts are with the families who have experienced loss.”
Two of the three involved construction work. The third, in Kawartha Lakes, was at a private home where workers trimming a hedge on an elevated work platform contacted a powerline. One worker died and the other was injured.
In Vaughan, a Ministry of Labour report said a worker employed by Pontil Drilling Services sustained fatal injuries when a drill boom made contact with overhead power lines.
In Scarborough, east Toronto, a worker for Darcon was injured when a tower crane hit an overhead powerline. The job site constructor is Paramount Structures.
“This is a stark reminder of the dangers of working near electricity and clearly shows there is a need for more to be done to keep workers safe,” said James Barry, executive chairman of the IBEW Construction Council of Ontario, in an online statement.
There have been 1,250 reported overhead powerline contacts in Ontario in the last 10 years with an average of two deaths per year, making the pair of fatalities on Sept. 19 a full year’s worth statistically. The ESA says construction workers are at especially high risk with 60 per cent of powerline contacts occurring with dump trucks on construction sites.
The ESA responded to the mishaps with a statement urging awareness of the specific hazards related to working near wires. It’s a message that echoes those of the ESA’s Powerline Safety Week awareness campaign that’s launched at the start of construction season each May in Canada.
The ESA also works with utilities, haulers and arborists on a regular basis, Moody said.
“We urge situational awareness with a hazard assessment being the first thing they should do,” he said. “Be aware of your surroundings.”
“All of these incidents are preventable. Electricity is very lethal and unforgiving and having safe work practices every day is very important.”
“For the most part, if you look at the utilities, they live and breathe health and safety,” Kelusky said. “These weren’t utility workers, the guys dealing with the live stuff, they deal with it with great respect and understanding. That is a cultural thing from top to bottom.”
Despite the incidents of Sept. 19, Kelusky said, the statistics show construction is getting safer and that the construction sector in the province is developing a more integrated safety culture.
Responding to the comment urging that more be done, Kelusky said a major focus of his office is linking the diverse efforts of the health and safety community. His office has recently pledged to work with Ontario’s Industrial Health and Safety Association to undertake more research to be able to provide stronger tools to employers.
The approach to falls across the province in the last decade is a good example of how research can lead to program development and working with employers and employees to deliver results, Kelusky explained.
“What we want to do is supply labor and employers with more information other than, if you touch that it will hurt you,” he said, referring to electrical hazards. “We did that with falls and touch wood that seems to be going well.”
Looking ahead, Kelusky said, there are positive signs from Queen’s Park with the auditor general conducting a much-needed review of health and safety programs, the government reviewing the WSIB and signals from the new Minister of Labor, Monte McNaughton, that he is keenly interested in health and safety and working collaboratively with stakeholders. That’s on top of the WSIB’s new Health and Safety Excellence Program and the continuing growth of COR.
Decatur, GA – Last week OSHA announced $132,604 in penalties for safety violations documented at Atlanta Kitchen LLC. According to their press release, Atlanta Kitchen employees were exposed to health hazards from silica used in the facility and safety hazards from amputation risks and electrical dangers found at the Decatur kitchen countertop manufacturer.
Federal workplace safety investigators claim that Atlanta Kitchen exposed workers to unsafe levels of silica. Silica is a mineral used in construction materials which, according to OSHA, can be dangerous if inhaled. OSHA found the manufacturer failed to conduct monitoring to determine employees’ exposure to silica.
In addition, Atlanta Kitchen was cited for Lockout/Tagout failures. OSHA documented failures to develop written procedures for a hazardous energy control and failures in implementing the facility’s lockout/tagout program.
Phoenix, AZ – Numerous buildings in the downtown area of Phoenix were without power for days following a recent fatal arc flash incident. One Arizona Public Service Electric Company (APS) worker was killed, and another was injured when an underground electric vault caught fire on Sunday June 30th.
Phoenix police report the name of the worker who died as Ricardo Castillo, age 42. Emergency crews who responded to the fire say that flames where shooting out of a manhole at the scene. Police have said that a 46-year-old worker had exited the vault, and suffered burns on his hands and face. That man was taken to a local burn center for treatment and later released.
Many in the Phoenix area were impacted by this tragic electrical flash fire. The fire that followed the arc flash left a number of downtown buildings and light-rail stations without power well into the week. According to a Maricopa County spokesperson, around 1,000 workers had to either take Monday July 1st off or work from home due to the power outage. Trials and hearings at the Maricopa County Superior Court complex had to be cancelled in the wake of this unfortunate event.
According to news reports, Castillo and the other APS employee were replacing a power cable in an underground vault when an electrical flash triggered a fire. APS and the Arizona division of OSHA will be working together to determine what caused the fatal arc flash.
An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.
During an arc flash, temperatures may exceed 35,000° F. For perspective, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. The high temperature of an arc flash causes the surrounding air to heat very rapidly and exert extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash or arc blast can vaporize all solid copper conductors. These copper conductors will expand up to 67x times their original volume when vaporized. The resulting arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.
When an arc flash happens, it is without warning and lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to anyone nearby. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage of an arc flash including conducting arc flash studies, hazard analysis and labeling, short circuit studies, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training. Please contact an electrical safety specialist at Martin Technical if your plant or facility has any concerns about arc flash risks.
London, Ontario – O’Connor Electric Ltd was fined $60,000 this week as a consequence of a Jan 2018 arc flash incident which burned three electrical workers at an Ontario shopping mall. The company plead guilty to failing to establish and implement written measures and procedures to ensure that its workers were adequately protected from electrical shock and burn.
At the time of the arc flash incident, a crew of six were upgrading the service in an electrical room at the mall. The workers were planning on installing a new disconnect switch and wiring. Three O’Connor Electric employees has started installing the disconnect when an arc flash occurred. Canadian Occupational Health and Safety officials determined that the existing service had not been shut down when work began. Mistakenly working on an energized electrical system lead to the arc flash which burned the employees.
In Canadian court proceedings this week, O’Connor Electric Ltd. and one supervisor plead guilty. The supervisor was charged with failing to ensure workers followed OHSA guidelines for properly disconnecting the power supply. The company was charged $55,000 in penalties, and the supervisor was fined $5,000.
Ontario Construction Regulations dictate that power supply “to the electrical equipment, installation or conductor shall be disconnected, locked out of service and tagged … before the work begins, and kept disconnected, locked out of service and tagged while the work continues.” Accordingly, the Ministry of Labour found that O’Connor Electric failed to establish working conditions compliant with that regulation, and that the supervisor failed to ensure that workers followed the regulations.
Arc flashes are violent and lightning-quick. They can cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment. There are many avenues to mitigate or reduce the risk of arc flash incidents and their threat to electrical and maintenance workers. Contact a member of our Electrical and Industrial Safety team today to discuss Arc Flash Assessment and Labeling, Compliance, and/or Training needs of your staff and facility. At Martin Technical, our goal is always to provide practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer, and more efficient.
Strattanville, PA – A 2018 amputation due to machine guarding failures at a PA modular home manufacturing facility lead to an OSHA investigation which revealed numerous workplace safety violation and resulted in a staggering $687,650 in penalties.
On the topic of machine guarding failures, OSHA’s local Area Office Director stated that “moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries if they are not safeguarded…Employers’ use of machine guards and devices is not optional. Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that machine operators are protected.”
In the investigation triggered by the November 2018 amputation, OSHA documented Champion Modular employees’ exposure to numerous workplace safety hazards. Some of the machine guarding failures included damaged plastic guards on a table saw which exposed employees to the saw blade, work rests on grinding machinery not adjusted properly, a grinder was being used without the proper guard, and a hand-fed circular ripsaw found without a spreader and missing a kickback device.
Hazards caused by combustible dust were also evident at the Champion Modular facility. Combustible dust was found to have accumulated in the higher areas of the facility, which posed an increased risk of fire. Additionally, a dust collector that was not equipped with devices and systems to prevent fire was noted as having the potential to expose employees to fire, burn, and deflagration hazards.
Violations of federal Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) machine safety standards was another a part of the citations and penalties OSHA issued. OSHA inspectors found equipment and machinery at the manufacturing facility that was missing lockout/tagout procedures altogether. Additionally, Champion Modular allegedly failed to perform periodic inspections of machine servicing and equipment maintenance procedures.
OSHA investigators also noted electrical safety violations and hazards at the PA manufacturing facility. Electrical equipment was found installed and/or in use outside of the intended purpose, not in compliance with instructions. Inspectors noted duct tape and electrical tape being used to cover up and hold together a damaged control pendant.
Violations and fines of this magnitude are avoidable through conscientious workplace safety programs – Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer and more efficient. Our experts simplify complex workplace safety practices by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services.
Hayden, AZ – Three workers burned severely by arc flash hazards found at an Arizona metal smelting and extraction facility triggered an OSHA investigation which lead to this week’s announcement of penalties totaling $278,456.
The federal workplace safety agency released its citation against ASARCO this week, claiming two willful violations and one serious violation of electrical hazards standards at the Hayden (AZ) facility.
In its investigation of the arc flash, OSHA inspectors determined that the arc flash occurred after the insertion of a breaker into a 4,160V switchgear. ASARCO was cited for three violations of electrical safety standards: failure to provide the workers with a pre-job briefing before starting work on the energized switchgear, failure to render the electrical breaker inoperable before work began, and failures in providing the employees with arc-flash protective clothing (also known at PPE).
OSHA’s Regional Administrator stated that “arc flash hazards are well known, but can be eliminated when workers are properly trained and protective equipment is provided.”
Not only is electrical safety training required by OSHA, but it’s a vital piece of fulfilling an arc flash analysis or electrical safety program. Once electrical labels are visible, workers need to know how to properly understand the program and read the labels. Employees also need to understand the importance of properly care for their PPE, and how to do so. The need for every worker to understand electrical safety for their equipment and tasks in particular can not be over-stated.
Read more about Arc Flash Analysis and common pitfalls on our website, and contact a member of our Electrical Safety Team today to discuss how Martin Technical can bring awareness to arc flash hazards, get your facility compliant, and increase the safety of your workforce. Martin Technical is the leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer, and more efficient.
Lapel, IN – Three serious safety violations were found at the Owens-Illinois Bottling facility in Lapel, Indiana. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) issued $13,500 in fines for safety violations inspectors which it determined could have led to serious worker injury.
In an investigation last fall, IOSHA found serious safety violations including insufficient employee training and failure to lockout an electrical box while it was in the process of being repaired.
The serious safety violation related to Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) states that lockout “procedures were not developed, documented and utilized for the control of potentially hazardous energy,” during machine maintenance at Owens-Illinois’ Indiana bottling plant.
Additionally, Owens-Illinois was found to have failed to properly train employees on lockout/tagout and machine safety. OSHA requires that employers provide training to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control or LOTO programs are understood by employees.
The third serious safety violation concerned unused openings in electrical boxes, raceways, and other electrical equipment which were not closed when IOSHA conducted their investigation. Safety inspectors cited Owens-Illinois for failure to protect employees and equipment from exposure to electrical hazards.
Electrical safety, Lockout/Tagout, and training on both of these important components of workplace safety are at the heart of Martin Technical’s suite of safety services. Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer and more efficient. Our experts can help simplify the complex by applying real-world solutions for Lockout/Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety, and Safety Consulting Services. Please call a member of our Industrial Safety Team today to discuss how to improve safety and efficiency at your facility.
Hialeah, FL – OSHA has cited CGI Windows and Doors for federal workplace safety violations that include willful failures in machine guarding which will cost PGT Industries fines proposed to total $398,545. OSHA investigated the Florida window and door manufacturer following reports that an employee had suffered a partial finger amputation while using an unguarded punch press at their facility outside of Miami. CGI Windows and Doors is owned by PGT Industries.
OSHA cited PGT for two serious violations and two other-than-serious violations, however the bulk of the fine was for the willful violation of machine safety standards. In their announcement, OSHA stated that PGT Industries “knowingly disregarded machine guarding requirement intended to protect employees from caught-in and amputation hazards.” The Willful violation constitutes $258,672 of the proposed fine. In this case, OSHA applied the maximum fine allowed by law for the violations that can cause life-altering injury.
Federal workplace safety inspectors found guards absent on eight punch presses, a drill press, and a table saw at the CGI Windows and Doors facility. Three other punch presses were documented as having guards that didn’t cover enough area to protect workers.
The serious and other-than-serious citations were for hazards including failing to implement a program to inspect mechanical power presses and correct unsafe conditions; exposing employees to electrical hazards; failing to make sure employees wore hearing protection; and failing to develop specific procedures to verify the control of hazardous energy an industrial safety practice known as Lockout Tagout.
In response to OSHA’s announcement and the associated penalties, PGT asserted that they “share OSHA’s goal of ensuring the safety of each and every one of our team members.”
Conroe, TX – An electrical panel explosion and fire at Aegion Coating Services’ production plant sent two electricians to the hospital this month.
Investigators say two electricians were seriously burned when a high voltage electrical panel they were working on exploded.
According to the local Fire Marshal, multiple agencies responded to the emergency and the facility was evacuated as a precaution. One report described heavy black smoke billowing from a large warehouse at the site. The fire caused by the electrical panel explosion was quickly put out by firefighters. The chemicals present at this plant were a concern for area firefighters, but it was reported that no chemicals were released and local residents were not evacuated.
Both affected electricians were transported to the hospital for burn treatments, but were back to work when the plant was authorized to resume operations later that same day.
The Aegion chemical plant facility north of Houston specializes in pipeline coatings for both onshore and offshore installations. The incident is currently under investigation by the County Fire Marshal’s Office.
Please contact Martin Technical to learn more about Electrical and Arc Flash safety.