Cal/OSHA has cited National Distribution Services Inc. (NDS) $99,345 for alleged hazards that led to an explosion that killed one worker and left another with severe burns at the company’s Corona, Calif., facility.
The agency noted that it has cited the fuel-distribution company for similar incidents in the past.
On May 6, two employees attempted welding operations on a 9,000-gallon tanker truck containing an unknown amount of crude oil. The tank had not been purged or tested for flammable vapors, resulting in the explosion, according to Cal/OSHA.
Samuel Enciso, 52, was a welder who had been with NDS for four years. He was found dead on the floor of the facility with his right hand and lower arm completely severed. A second employee with five years of experience suffered burns to more than 50 percent of his body.
Investigators from the San Bernardino Cal/OSHA district office determined that NDS contributed to the incident by failing to have required safety procedures in place for working with flammable vapors. Additionally, investigators found that NDS failed to train employees on the dangers of welding near combustible materials.
“California requires employers to have and adhere to an injury and illness prevention program,” said Christine Baker, director of the California Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal/OSHA. “This preventable death is a reminder of what can happen when that requirement is ignored.”
While investigating the May 6 incident, investigators learned about a previous explosion at the Corona facility that occurred under similar circumstances, and involved the same two NDS employees. On Sept. 25, 2012, the lid of a fuel tanker blew through the ceiling of the repair facility after the employees commenced welding on a truck filled with flammable vapors, according to the agency. No injuries occurred on that date.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration served NDS with an emergency restriction order on Aug. 14, prohibiting the company from using cargo-tank motor vehicles. The company appealed the order in September.
The owner of NDS, Carl Bradley Johansson, served prison time following a similar incident, according to Cal/OSHA. In the 1990s, Johansson operated a business in Montebello, Calif., known as Atlas Bulk Carriers. On Sept. 27, 1993 there was a fatal explosion involving welding operations on a fuel tanker that also had not been purged or tested. Cal/OSHA cited Atlas Bulk Carriers for the incident.