Worker's Death at Texas Worksite Brings OSHA Penalties of $70,000

Two workers were burned in an explosion and one of them later died from his injuries because a Seguin, Texas, company allegedly failed to provide a safe working environment, according to citations issued by OSHA.

Structural Metals Inc. (SMI), a steel manufacturer, was fined $70,000 for an alleged willful violation stemming from an inspection that began Sept. 27. The inspection was in response to the explosion at the company's worksite in Seguin.

According to OSHA, the company allowed employees to continue to work on a metal melting process despite water leaking into the furnace, exposing them to an explosion. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSHA law and regulations.

"The employer knew there was a leak in the roof cooling panel and chose not to repair it," said Paul Brantley, OSHA's area director in Austin. "It's quite possible this explosion could have been avoided had the employer made the necessary repairs."

SMI, a subsidiary of Commercial Metal Inc. in Dallas, manufactures metal beams and rods, and employs about 5,000 workers nationwide with 600 in Seguin.

SMI has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Austin area office or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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