Newport, WA Plant Fined $1.3M for Explosion that Injured 17

Posted on 1/21/2016 by Roger Marks

A Newport, WA plastics and composites production plant where a July 2015 explosion injured seventeen workers has been cited for willful and serious violations of OSHA’s work safety standards. According to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, the employer could have prevented the explosion using proper safety interlocks and safeguards to ensure safe use of a curing oven. 

The explosion occurred when highly flammable resins were run through a 90-foot oven multiple times, according to a release from the Washington Department of L&I.  Just eleven days before the inciting incident, the facility was evacuated due to flammable vapors that posed an explosion risk.

Because the explosion caused injury to seventeen workers, the facility was cited for seventeen willful OSHA violations, each of which carries a maximum civil penalty of $70,000. In addition, the facility was fined for “serious violations,” including:
  • Not ensuring effective energy control procedures to protect workers cleaning/servicing the oven
  • Confined space violations related to employees working in the oven
  • Failure to prevent ignition of flammable vapors
  • Failure to adequately protect workers from inhaling vapors and chemicals
                     Facility explosion leads to OSHA fines

The $1.3 million total penalty is the result of a six month investigation, which found the company used defective equipment and did not use proper procedures to protect workers. The employer has 15 days to appeal the OSHA citations.

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Tags: enforcement, fire safety, osha, process safety management

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