Manhattan Explosion Equals Multiple Inspections, Many Hazards

Oct. 29, 2002
OSHA has cited and fined three employers for a building explosion at an architectural sign manufacturer that injured 31 people and hospitalized 11 employees on April 25.

OSHA issued $115,100 in proposed fines against Kaltech Industries Group Inc., Big Apple Signs Inc. and Signs and Decals Corp.

The investigation of the explosion led to OSHA citing the companies at three manufacturing facilities located at 123 West 19th Street, New York; 247 35th Street, New York; and 410 Morgan Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.

According to Richard Mendelson, area director for OSHA's Manhattan Area Office, inspections were conducted at the facilities after an explosion in the basement of Kaltech Industries Group Inc.'s facility on West 19th Street. OSHA immediately responded to that explosion and conducted a comprehensive safety and health inspection.

As a result of that inspection, OSHA conducted comprehensive safety and health inspections as part of a joint enforcement effort with the New York City Fire Department and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at two other family-owned companies with shared business interests with Kaltech.

As a result of the inspection of the Kaltech Industries facilities, that employer was cited for 36 alleged serious violations of OSHA safety and health standards carrying a total proposed penalty of $88,000.

The most severe violations, said Mendelson, had to do with the employer's failure to protect employees from the hazards of mixing incompatible waste chemicals, failure to develop and implement a written hazard communication program, and failure to ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals was properly labeled. The company was also cited for exit violations including a locked door; violations involving the handling of flammable and combustible liquids; no emergency response for chemical spills; and lack of personal protective equipment, including gloves and eye/face protection.

Inspections of both Big Apple Signs and Signs and Decals began on May 2, and resulted in Big Apple being cited for eight alleged serious violations carrying proposed penalties of $12,250 and two other-than-serious violations with no penalties. The eight serious violations include an unmarked exit; flammable liquid containers not closed; flammable liquids dispensed without bonding and grounding; no strain relief on permanent machine electrical wiring; no hazard communication program, MSDS not maintained and no training; no labeling on chemical containers; and no written respiratory program, including no medical evaluation, no fit testing, no cleaning and disinfecting of respirators, and no training.

Signs and Decals was cited for 17 alleged serious violations with proposed penalties of $14,850 for locked exits; sprinkler heads painted shut; low headroom in exit paths; doors not marked with "Not an Exit" warning; no directional exit signs; no storage cabinet for flammable liquids; flammable liquid storage area not diked; clogged spray booth filter; no eye protection; no eye wash and shower; fire extinguishers not mounted; no fire extinguisher training; unguarded fan blades; live exposed electric; no hazard communication program, no training; and no labeling on chemical containers.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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