OSHA Issues 54 Citations to Worthen Industries Following Explosion at Manufacturing Plant

July 26, 2010
Contractor working at facility also fined for alleged safety violations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a Nashua, N.H.-based manufacturer for alleged violations of workplace safety standards following a Jan. 23 explosion at one of its facilities. A contractor working at the manufacturing location also was cited.

Worthen Industries, which manufactures coatings and adhesives, received citations for one willful violation, 48 serious and five other-than-serious violations following an explosion at its facility on East Spit Brook Road. Proposed fines for the alleged violations total $225,400.

According to OSHA, the explosion occurred when flammable vapors ignited while workers from steel erection firm S.L. Chasse Welding & Fabrication were installing a new motor on a vessel used in the plants manufacturing process. OSHA said its investigation revealed that Worthen had failed to clean the vessel thoroughly enough to ensure the absence of flammable materials or vapors. Additionally, the federal agency alleges that the manufacturer had not vented the vessel prior to the welding.

As a result, OSHA issued one citation for a willful violation, with a proposed fine of $63,000. A willful violation, by OSHAs definition, is a violation committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

OSHA issued numerous addition citations and fines to Worthen Industries for alleged infractions that include an incomplete and inadequate process safety management program; fall hazards from an unguarded mezzanine and floor openings; accumulations of ice on exit stairs; electrical hazards; lack of personal protective equipment and tools; an incomplete and inadequate respiratory protection program; incomplete illness and injury logs; and more.

The contractor, S.L. Chase, received eight serious and six other-than-serious citations with proposed fines that total $32,100. Alleged safety hazards identified by OSHA include inadequate training for workers to recognize potential chemical, fire, explosion or toxic release hazards and appropriate protective work practices, and allowing welding to be performed in a flammable atmosphere.

The two firms each have 15 days from receipt of their citations and proposed penalties to comply, contest the findings or meet with an area OSHA director.

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