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.
Fort St. John, British Colombia – Peace River Hydro Partners has been fined $662,102.48 by WorkSafeBC. The fine was imposed on August 21, 2019, after a worker sustained an electrical shock injury. A worker was able to access the main circuit breaker in a high-voltage electrical cabinet for tunneling equipment.
According to WorkSafeBC, the main electrical breaker extensions on the exterior cabinet door were not functioning, the de-energization switches had been circumvented and the main breaker switch-box isolation covers were in disrepair.
WorkSafeBC staff also determined that it was a standard work practice at this site to access the main circuit breaker without following lockout procedures.
A stop-use order was issued for the tunneling equipment because Peace River Hydro Partners failed to ensure its equipment was capable of safely performing its functions, and was unable to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety.
WorkSafeBC says these were both repeated violations.
This is the largest fine WorkSafeBC can issue under B.C. legislation. The report from WorkSafeBC did not disclose the condition of the worker or the exact date of the incident.
Natchez, MS – OSHA has cited paper products manufacturer von Drehle Corporation for multiple workplace safety hazards and issued $303,657 in potential penalties, including one for the maximum amount allowed by law.
OSHA’s Area Office Director stated that “employers are required to assess potential hazards, and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace…[This] inspection results demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed, putting workers at serious risk of injury or death.”
Von Drehle Corp issued a statement regarding the citations at their Natchez facility: “Employee safety is the utmost important priority for von Drehle, which is why we fully cooperated with OSHA throughout the inspections.”
Von Drehle is headquartered in Hickory, North Carolina, and manufacturers industrial and commercial paper products like tissue and paper towels at facilities in North Carolina, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.
Carthage, NY – A paperboard facility in upstate New York is facing 61 citations and nearly $360,000 in OSHA fines, prompting many employees to worry about layoffs. Federal safety inspectors found that Carthage Specialty Paperboard’s Carthage mill lacked safety guards to prevent amputations, and locks that halt start-ups during equipment maintenance.
In addition to the failures in lockout/tagout and machine safety, OSHA inspectors also found that employees did not receive required training or safety equipment and were sent into confined spaces without atmospheric testing or rescue protocols in place.
OSHA area director Christopher Adams stated that “the violations found during this investigation put employees at serious risk of injury or even worse…This is a significant number of hazards for a single workplace.”
Electrical hazards were also cited in OSHA’s report. They documented a lack of safety equipment or training for employees working on electrical systems charged with up to 2,300 volts of electricity.
Safety locks were missing on machines to that prevent them from being turned on during routine maintenance – these locks and safety procedures are known as Lockout/Tagout. OSHA requires that equipment specific lockout procedures be written for each piece of equipment. These lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.
Carthage Specialty Paperboard representatives say that the mill is old, which is why it has many of these problems. A United Steelworkers Union representative says that investment is needed: “It needs money. It’s an old mill. Old mills take investment to keep running.” Carthage Specialty Paperboard is owned by Delta Point which has invested $3 million into the mill over the last several years and has said it plans to put in another $2 million. Mill workers are worried about the state of their jobs. The labor representative said that “if they don’t see Delta Point coming in with money to invest in the facility, there’s a lot of anxiety.”
Superior, WI – A boilermaker employed at the Fraser Shipyards on Lake Superior has died two months after suffering severe burns on the job. Joseph Burch worked at the Fraser Shipyards for 22 years and was injured in February. Burch never recovered and lost his life due to the burns he sustained. The incident that has generated new citations from federal OSHA regulators for faulty personal protective equipment.
OSHA has issued two citations for serious violations in allegedly allowing holes and frayed fabric in protective clothing worn while performing hot work, and allegedly allowing employees to work without wearing fire retardant jackets and coveralls while using a hand-held torch. Fraser Shipyards faces $12,548 in potential fines.
OSHA says employees were not adequately protected from molten metal, sparks, fire or flame. The agency says at least one of the violations was corrected during their inspection.
Thomson, GA – OSHA has proposed a total of $704,610 in penalties for a series of safety violations (including lockout/tagout failures) at an auto parts manufacturer in Thomson (GA). HP Pelzer Automotive Systems was inspected in March 2016 Inc and staffing company Sizemore Inc is also being fined by OSHA for their role in continued violations at the Georgia manufacturer of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat-Chrysler, Subaru and General Motors parts.
Staffing agency Sizemore Inc. had approximately 300 temporary employees assigned to work at the HP Pelzer facility at the time of the OSHA inspection.
HP Pelzer was cited for eight serious violations for exposing workers to fall hazards, not providing electrical protective equipment and failing to train workers about electrical hazards related to their activities.
OSHA issued 12 repeated citations to HP Pelzer for failures to develop, implement and utilize written procedures to prevent machinery from starting-up during maintenance or servicing. These types of procedures are know as Lockout/Tagout. Federal regulations mandate that each piece of equipment have specific lockout procedures written with detailed instructions on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. Lockout/Tagout procedures help to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment during service or maintenance activities.
Additionally, OSHA found HP Pelzer had failed to conduct periodic inspections of the energy control procedures, train employees performing work on hazardous energy sources, ensure the repair or replacement of electrical equipment for safe operational condition, and protect workers from laceration and amputation hazards due to unguarded machine parts.
Sizemore Inc was issued four serious citations for exposing workers to fall hazards, not providing training on hazardous energy sources, exposing employees to amputation, laceration and electrical live parts.
San Antonio, TX – Bluebonnet Foods is facing serious fines following an OSHA investigation that uncovered 21 serious violations, including violations of hazardous energy control. Fines for the San Antonio food business could total $104,000.
OSHA cited Bluebonnet for several electrical, amputation, struck-by and chemical hazard infractions. Investigators determined that Bluebonnet failed to establish procedures for control of hazardous energy sources (known as Lockout/Tagout); install of emergency eyewash stations, provide protective equipment (PPE); provide safety data sheets; and failure to provide effective training on chemicals used.
Bluebonnet Foods makes slow-roasted, fried and grilled meats for retail and food industries under the name Good Heart Specialty Foods.