Explosive Situation in Montana Leads to OSHA Fines

March 12, 2002
A Montana power company's failure to protect employees working in areas with potentially explosive accumulations of coal dust has led to citations and $181,000 in proposed penalties.

A Montana power company's failure to protect employees working in areas with potentially explosive accumulations of coal dust has led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue citations and $181,000 in proposed penalties against the company. The citations were issued against PPL Montana LLC, Colstrip, following an investigation that began on Aug. 29, 2001 after a coal dust explosion injured two PPL Montana employees.

OSHA cited PPL Montana for two willful violations, alleging the company knowingly rendering conveyor safety devices inoperable along and knowingly permitted employees to use unsuitable electrical tools in locations having a coal dust explosion hazard. Proposed penalties total $125,000 for the two alleged willful violations.

A total of $56,000 in penalties was proposed for eight alleged serious violations, including: lack of documentation of hazardous classified locations; excessive accumulations of explosive coal dust; failure to use temporary precautions when a fixed fire extinguishing system becomes inoperable; failure to properly train employees in safety-related work practices; failure to affix lockout devices to each energy isolating device; failure to properly maintain interlocks and other safety devices; failure to identify emergency stop devices; and failure to safely control sources of ignition to prevent ignition of a combustible atmosphere.

"This accident and the unsafe conditions discovered during the inspection could have been avoided by adherence to recognized safe work practices and OSHA regulations," said David DiTommaso, OSHA area director in Billings.

PPL Montana has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!