OSHA Fines NDK Crystals $510,000 Following Explosion That Killed Bystander

Agency alleges Illinois plant knowingly operated equipment after warnings of potential for catastrophic failure.

NDK Crystals in Belvidere, Ill., was fined $510,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration following an investigation into a December explosion that killed a truck driver, the U.S. Labor Department agency reported Thursday. The blast occurred at the companys crystal manufacturing building.

"The employer knowingly operated high pressure vessels even after being warned of the potential for a catastrophic failure due to material design and fabrication defects," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels, in a news release.

OSHA cited the company for seven alleged willful violations and five serious violations. Willful violations, according to OSHA, are committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for legal requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The seven willful violation citations are for seven individual high-pressure vessels at the site. OSHA alleges the company continued to operate the vessels, used to produce quartz, despite knowing the vessels were susceptible to explosion and catastrophic failure due to defective design and fabrication.

The serious violations include allegedly failing to evaluate the building for a catastrophic event and failing to have an emergency evacuation program or implement a hazard communication program.

NDK Crystals has 15 days from the receipt of its citations to comply, request a conference with OSHAs area director or contest the findings.

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