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OSHA Cites and Fines Bostik Inc. After Investigation Into March Explosion

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently cited Bostik Inc. for 50 alleged violations of workplace safety standards following a March 13 explosion at the company’s Middleton plant. The explosion injured four of their workers. As reported in Bostik Inc. Provides Cause for Plant Explosion and Worker Injuries in Middleton, Officials Continue Investigation, the company claimed that the explosion was due to open valves that let flammable gas permeate throughout the building. The company, an adhesives manufacturer, faces a total of $917,000 in proposed fines and 50 citations.

OSHA’s inspection identified numerous serious problems in the company’s process safety management (PSM) program, safety requirements and procedures which employers must follow when dealing with chemical hazards. On the day of the explosion, a valve on a transfer line was accidentally left open, which led to the release of flammable acetone vapors. The vapors then exploded after they were ignited by an undetermined source.

Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s area director for northeastern Massachusetts, said “In this case, Bostik knew from prior third party and internal compliance audits conducted at the plant that aspects of its PSM program were incomplete or inadequate, and misclassified electrical equipment was in use. The company did not take adequate steps to address those conditions…Luckily, the explosion happened when there were few workers in the plant. Otherwise, this incident could have resulted in a catastrophic loss of life.”

Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, said “The requirements of OSHA’s PSM standard are stringent and comprehensive because the stakes are so high…Failure to evaluate, anticipate, address and prevent hazardous conditions associated with a process can result in a catastrophic incident such as an explosion.”

OSHA issued Bostik with nine willful citations and with $630,000 in proposed fines because OSHA found that the company willfully knew that their process safety management program was incomplete. OSHA issues a willful violation when it is committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with disregard to worker safety and health.

OSHA also issued Bostik Inc. with 41 serious citations and $287,000 in fines, for numerous other safety violations ranging from an insufficient emergency response plan, inadequate training for employees required to respond to fires, obstructed exit access, and electrical hazards. OSHA issues a serious violation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Bostik´s workers´ compensation carrier is the Illinois National Insurance Company.

If you have been injured in the workplace, it is best advised that you contact an
experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer.

Sources:

US Labor Department’s OSHA cites 50 safety violations, proposes $917,000 in fines against Bostik Inc. following Middleton, Mass., explosion, OSHA Regional News, September 13, 2011
Bostik Provides Update on the March 13 Incident to Local Agencies, Bostik, Inc., Press Release
Fire Prevention Plans, Standard 1910.39, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Related Blog Post:

Bostik Inc. Provides Cause for Plant Explosion and Worker Injuries in Middleton, Officials Continue Investigation

Contact a Massachusetts work injury lawyer if you have been injured in the workplace.

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