Georgia plant fined after explosion
After a runaway reaction from an overheated reactor caused an explosion, MFG Chemical Inc. in Dalton, Ga., is facing $77,000 in fines for 20 safety violations which resulted in the hospitalization for decontamination of 40 employees of other companies working in the surrounding area, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The May explosion was the result of a runaway reaction from an overheated reactor. MFG Chemical makes a range of specialty chemicals for the water treatment, agriculture, pulp and paper industries.
During the production of coagulant 129, a compound used in water treatment, an increase in temperature caused the reactor to overpressurize, rupturing the dome cover and blowing a hole in the roof of the facility.
In response to the incident, OSHA conducted an inspection under the agency’s national emphasis program on process safety management for covered chemical facilities.
Nineteen serious violations involve exposing workers to fire and explosion hazards while they performed manufacturing duties, as well as failing to ensure that initial process hazard analyses were conducted; develop operational procedures that are safe, accurate and concise, and which include operating parameters such as emergency shutdown; provide training and implement safe work practices for contracted workers performing maintenance in a PSM-covered area; develop and implement a written mechanical integrity program for workers required to perform maintenance on and repair process equipment; develop emergency response procedures that include handling small chemical releases; identify permit-required confined spaces such as reactors, receivers and mixers, among others; ensure confined space permits were issued and documented prior to allowing workers to enter the spaces; ensure that eyewash/shower facilities were available and accessible for workers exposed to chemical burns; mount and identify the placement of portable fire extinguishers; and establish a preferred way of communicating an emergency evacuation.
A serious violation occurs 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. The citations carry $76,300 in penalties.
One other-than-serious violation is failing to ensure a material safety data worksheet contained the required information. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm. The citation carries a $700 penalty.
“This inspection has identified a wide range of safety hazards that need to be addressed in order to protect workers,” said Andre Richards, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-West Area Office. “It is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace.”