Explosion Kills One Employee, Company Fined $800,000

OSHA cited a pyrotechnics manufacturer in Perry, Fla., for safety\r\nand health violations following an explosion and\r\nfire that claimed the life of one employee and seriously injured\r\nanother.

OSHA cited a pyrotechnics manufacturer in Perry, Fla., for safety and health violations following an investigation of an explosion and fire that claimed the life of one employee and seriously injured another.

OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $823,000.

MEI Holdings Inc., doing business as Martin Electronics, was cited for 60 alleged safety and health violations at the Perry facility.

The May 1 explosion completely destroyed one building used for drying a wet composition of potentially volatile chemicals.

The composition is part of the manufacturing process of infrared decoy flares. Both victims were outside the building when it exploded.

"The death of one employee on the job is one too many," said OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress. "And yet this company has experienced five fatalities in the last five years because of explosions or flash fires. The employees at this company must be afforded a safe work environment. We will take serious enforcement action against this company and others who do not make safety a priority."

MEI Holdings employs 285 workers at the Perry facility.

The company manufactures military pyrotechnics/explosives to the Department of Defense.

OSHA''s investigation revealed that the chemical composition in the building -- including magnesium, Teflon, Hycar and hexane -- created volatile vapors requiring an explosion proof electrical system designed to minimize the risk of fire or explosion.

It was also determined that MEI had not evaluated and taken remedial action for existing hazardous conditions, required by OSHA''s process safety management standard (PSM).

"What we found to be most troubling," said Jeffress, "was the same manufacturing process used by MEI on May 1 produced a similar explosion just a few months earlier. We''ve inspected this company 11 times; they''re fully aware of safety and health standards impacting their industry. Still, they are reluctant to adhere to the very basics of worker safety. As a result, workers are paying with their lives."

OSHA issued five alleged willful instance-by-instance violations for the use of damaged personal protective equipment by five separate employees.

Additionally, two alleged willful instance-by-instance violations were issued for failure to provide approved electrical systems and equipment for two buildings.

Three other alleged willful violations of OSHA''s PSM standard were issued.

The agency also issued 38 alleged serious violations for various standards including hazard communication, training, lockout/tagout, machine guarding, flammable and combustible liquids and portable fire extinguishers.

The company was also cited for 12 other-than-serious violations involving occupational noise exposure, PSM, respiratory protection, sanitation, recordkeeping and access to employee medical records.

MEI Holdings has 15 days to contest the citations and proposed penalties.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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