OSHA Imposes $231,000 in Fines for Worker Injuries from Dust Explosion
OSHA Enforcement Action Summary:
OSHA recently cited Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation, a pasta manufacturing facility located in Steeleville, Illinois for six safety violations as a result of severe injuries sustained by two of its employees after a dust collector exploded on October 6, 2011.
OSHA’s proposed settlement is: $231,000.
At the time of the incident, the two maintenance workers were repairing a hole in the side of a metal trough containing a screw conveyor that was leaking granulated sugar within several feet of an operational dust collector. The dust collector exploded due to a spark from the welding operations.
Of the six violations, three of them were classified as willful. Therefore, OSHA has placed the company in its severe violator enforcement program, which will require the company to meet certain compliance obligations through follow up inspections by OSHA.
The willful violations included:
- failing to eliminate dust deflagration and explosion hazards on indoor dust collectors and air material separator that contain dust during the bagging of powdered sugar,
-Failing to shut down ducts and conveyor systems during welding operations (which had been responsible for carrying a spark to the nearby dust collector), and
-Failing to ensure that electrical equipment installed in areas exposed to combustible dust was approved and safe for those locations.
The three serious violations included:
-failing to inspect areas where welding was to be performed,
-Failing to prohibit welding in the presence of explosive atmospheres and
-Failing to ensure the safe use of welding processes in the presence of combustible dust.
The citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GilserMaryLeeCorporation_107443_04062012.pdf
Combustible Dust Information
Combustible dust is an OSHA National Enforcement Program and OSHA continue to pursue aggressive enforcement action when facilities fail to comply with the standard. According to OSHA a combustible dust is any combustible material (and some materials normally considered noncombustible) can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. Materials that may form combustible dust include metals (such as aluminum and magnesium), wood, coal, plastics, biosolids, sugar, paper, soap, dried blood, and certain textiles.
Often employers are not even aware that they may have a combustible dust hazard. See OSHA’s website on combustible dust for further information: http://www.osha.gov/dsg/combustibledust/index.html