OSHA Fines Firm $50,500 in Fatal Blast

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Hi-Temp Specialty Metals Inc. of Willingboro, Pa., with 14 violations of safety and health regulations and fined the company $50,500 following its investigation of a Jan. 25 blast that killed one worker and injured five others.

According to OSHA, the blast was caused by a process used by the company to extract the metal tantalum from used capacitors. Emloyees were using nitric acid as part of the process and when it came into contact with the plastic coating on the capacitors - which are used in small electronic appliances such as cellular phones and digital cameras - it created an unstable, explosive compound.

The event that triggered the explosion remains unknown.

Hi-Temp management cooperated with OSHA's investigation, and conducted its own in an attempt to determine the cause of the explosion and correct any safety hazards.

Hi-Temp President Joseph Smokovich said the company has already abated most of the violations cited by OSHA. He said he plans to meet with OSHA officials "to discuss these issues in greater detail to make sure we're in compliance now and in the future."

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