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.
Chambersburg, PA – OSHA is conducting an investigation at Letterkenny Army Depot following a chemical explosion which sparked a fire that killed two employees.
Eric Byers (age 29) of Huntingdon County (PA) and Richard Barnes (age 60) of Greencastle (PA) died from their injuries, two other workers were treated at a nearby hospital and released for smoke inhalation.
The explosion and fire at Letterkenny Army Depot occurred on July 19, 2018 and were caused by an accident with a chemical in the paint shop of Building 350. According to the Depot Commander, the chemical in question was being used in normal processes. Officials have declined to specify which chemical sparked the fatal explosion and fire.
Building 350 is used for maintenance and upgrades on military vehicles. The building was not damaged in the explosion or fire.
The Depot Commander reports that corrective action has been taken, including additional training and signs, with further steps planned to minimize the risks associated with chemical use.
As part of the Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for Air Defense and Tactical Missile Systems, Letterkenny Army Depot facilities conduct maintenance, modification, and storage. It is the largest employer in Franklin County, PA.
Promontory, UT – A propellant explosion trapped an Autoliv North America worker inside a burning building. He was rescued, but died of his injuries.
64-year-old Ronald Larson was trapped in a fire that consumed the mixing portion of Autoliv North America’s Promontory (UT) facility. He died at the hospital following an explosion in a laboratory where he was making propellants for air bag inflators earlier this week.
OSHA is leading the investigation into the industrial accident that cost 64-year-old Ronald Larson his life. The immediate cause of the explosion has yet to be fully been determined.
According to local media, Larson “was trapped inside and on site personnel were making efforts to try and extricate him from [Autoliv’s mixing] building.” The employee was successfully extricated from the building and taken to a local hospital with severe burns. Unfortunately, Larson had stopped breathing upon arrival at the hospital. Lifesaving efforts were in progress, but he was pronounced deceased a short time afterward.
Larson is reported to have been alone in the mixing portion of the building at the time of the explosion and subsequent fire. Two other workers were injured in the fire and in trying to rescue their co-worker. Their injuries are not life-threatening.
Autoliv is based in Sweden and has several facilities in Utah under the Autoliv North America brand. They are the world’s largest automotive safety supplier.
This Autoliv North America location in Promontory was the site of two previous industrial explosions and fires. In 2015 an explosion injured an employee there, and in 2013 a flash fire burned a worker’s arms and face. These prior incident will factor into OSHA’s investigation of the company’s safety practices and could lead to steeper fines if lapses in environmental health and safety are found to have been willful.
Chattanooga, TN – Two workers performing maintenance on a sewer line in Chattanooga were injured in a confined space explosion this week. The two men were employees of SpectraShield, a subcontractor used by the City of Chattanooga.
The men were down in a manhole when the flash fire broke out, they were able to escape the confined space and call for help. Firefighters were dispatched, the fire was already out when they arrived. Tennessee’s OSHA division is involved in the investigation into the cause of the accident.
One worker suffered minor burns but was not hospitalized. The other was transported to a local hospital to be treated for second-degree burns.
Dayton, OH – Two firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries while responding to an industrial fire at the MAHLE Behr Dayton (OH) facility last week. Fire crews traced the fire to an electrical substation on the roof. The substation had electricity flowing into it, but not out of the transformers. The substation then overheated in an electrical fault.
The firefighters were treated at the hospital and at the scene – one suffered a leg injury when he fell over hose that was being extended from fire equipment, and the other received an electrical shock.
The transformers that caught fire are not used to energize anything inside the plant, so operations at the plant will not be interrupted. MAHLE Behr Dayton is reported to be a 570,000-square-foot manufacturing and assembly facility which produces heater cores, HVAC modules, radiators, engine cooling modules and fan clutches and employs up to 1,000.
Chapel Hill, NC – OSHA is investigating the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill due to an arc flash incident this month that resulted in a power outage at the campus’ Dey Hall and Wilson Library. The outage was caused when an arc flash struck a UNC employee while he was working in the transformer vault of Dey Hall. The employee was hospitalized for arc flash burns.
According to an OSHA statement, the employee was seen “running out of the building on fire.” Someone helped put the fire out, according to the release, and EMS was called. The employee was taken to UNC hospital. Davis Library, Student Stores, the Student Union, the House Undergraduate Library and Wilson Library were all closed due to the outage, and have since reopened.
Indiantown, FL – Two workers have been injured in an electrical arc flash accident and fire at the Indiantown Cogeneration Facility in Martin County, Florida. The incident occurred in a motor control center around 8:40 a.m. Both workers were hospitalized for injuries incurred during the arc flash and resulting fire.
The facility is out of service while officials investigate the equipment to determine the cause of the electrical 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.
Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F (the surface of the sun is 9000° F). These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash / blast will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors which will expand up to 67,000 times its original volume when it is vaporized. The arc flash / blast produces fire, intense light, pressure waves and produces flying shrapnel.
There are a variety of reasons why an Arc Flash can occur, but most of them are human error and preventable. Many arc flashes occur when maintenance workers are manipulating live equipment for testing or repair and accidentally cause a fault or short circuit. Improper tools, improper electrical equipment, corrosion of equipment, improper work techniques and lack of electrical safety training are just some of the events that can lead to a devastating arc flash or arc blast.
When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.
Understanding arc flash compliance is often complicated. OSHA mandates that employers identify electrical hazards, warn employees about the hazards and provide them proper protection and training regarding the hazards. While OSHA tells you “what to do” for arc flash, they don’t tell you “how” to do it. The role of NFPA 70E, IEEE 1584 and NEC is to provide guidance on “how” to properly implement the OSHA regulations.
For further information on arc flash compliance requirements and how it impacts your organization, please contact an expert on Martin Technical’s Safety & Compliance Team, or request a quote through our webpage. At Martin Technical, we genuinely care about people and look forward to bringing our professional expertise in Arc Flash analysis, labeling, and training to your facility and employees.
Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire, England – An electrical fire in an industrial building in the East Midlands of England has devastated at least three area businesses. Investigators have found the blaze which tore through an industrial estate last week was caused by an electrical fire.
The fire severely damaged the large two-story building which housed six separate units. There were no reports of any injuries. Businesses on the estate included a dry cleaner, steeplejack, and a plastics firm.
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service station manager Tom Clark stated: “We can now conclude that the fire was an electrical fire caused by one of the manufacturing processes in the building.” “There were also a couple of gas cylinders involved and there was a kerosene tank of 400 litres which needed protecting in the next building,” a fire spokesman said.
Many Cotgrave residents were out on the streets following the explosion, which sent a black smoke ring into the sky as smoke billowed from the buildings. Fire crews spent several hours tackling the inferno, which destroyed six units at the site.
Ray Hallam, owner of TVR Steeplejacks, saw his livelihood ruined as he surveyed the devastating scene – and said he had lost “literally everything.” The office where the renovations and repairs company was based has been completely gutted by the fire, destroying equipment, files and computers. The 65-year-old, who has run the family business for 15 years, said: “I’ve had to lay people off this morning because of this. I’ve had to contact customers because we’ve lost all our equipment, which was between £50,000 and £100,000-worth. It’s very upsetting.”
Other businesses affected by the blaze include Impressive Ironing and Cleaning Services and taxi firm DJM. Kirsty MacDonald, who set up Impressive four years ago and moved into the industrial site a year ago, said she was heartbroken. The 32-year-old, of Cotgrave, said: “That’s my livelihood gone, people’s jobs gone. We’ve lost everything. I was just in shock. After four years of effort to get it to where it was, for it to come to this was devastating…Everything’s just been blown apart.”
Essex County, New York – An employee of a Ticonderoga (NY) area paper mill was fatally burned in January 2015. Jorg Borowski, 57 years old, was caught in a flash fire while servicing air pollution equipment and died of his burns a day later. Owners of the International Paper Company have been faulted for numerous serious safety violations and face up to $210,000 in fines.
International Paper has been added to a special OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, aimed at companies that “have demonstrated indifference to (safety regulations) by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.” OSHA linked the company’s failure to conduct annual safety inspections of the “fly ash bag house” where Borowski was working to identical violations at its plants in Chicago and Newark, Ohio, in 2011.
In citations filed by OSHA this week, the IP mill in Ticonderoga was faulted for not providing Borowski with fire-resistant protective clothing, for improper maintenance of fly ash pollution control equipment so that it introduced oxygen needed for the fire to ignite and for not having an automatic fire control system where Borowski was working to remove and replace burned, smoldering filter bags of combustible fly ash.
“This worker’s death was preventable. International Paper knew of these hazards and deficiencies and did not address them,” said Kim Castillon, OSHA’s area director in Albany. “While nothing can return this man to his daughter and co-workers, the company can and must take prompt and effective steps to ensure that this never happens again.”