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Site after explosion
Site after explosion
Oregon OSHA cites Albany foundry for safety violations in 2019 explosion (Photo) - 02/19/20

(Salem) – Oregon OSHA has fined an Albany foundry $27,500 for violating job safety rules designed to protect workers from serious harm or death. The citation against Selmet Inc. follows an investigation of a furnace explosion that injured two workers, one of whom suffered second- and third-degree burns to his body.

The division’s investigation of the Aug. 15, 2019, accident identified three serious violations by Selmet. Those violations included failing to account for employee safety in the layout and design of the foundry, and overlooking proper work clothing and equipment.

“There are concrete steps employers can take to make safety a meaningful part of the operation of a work site,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Neglecting such steps, as this case demonstrates, serves only to invite more risk and the severe consequences that frequently come with it.”

The worker who suffered severe burns was operating a furnace – powered by high-voltage electricity – to melt titanium. He was doing so in a part of the foundry that contains older furnaces and where employees use control panels that are near each furnace. The furnace experienced a system failure that leaked water used for cooling into a vacuum chamber. The reaction of molten titanium with water triggered the explosion. 

The blast, which blew the roof off part of the building, left the worker with multiple burns to his head, neck, arms, and chest. The force of the blast threw another worker, stationed at the operating panel of another furnace, into a parts table.

Oregon OSHA cited Selmet for failing to account for safety measures in the design, layout, and operation of the older furnaces. Such measures could include blast walls to protect against explosions, isolated control rooms, or removal of employees from the risk zone during operations. The company had installed such measures for newer furnaces, according to Oregon OSHA’s investigation.

That serious violation carries a $13,750 penalty. Oregon OSHA also fined Selmet $13,750 for two related serious violations involving a lack of appropriate work clothing and personal protective equipment for furnace operators.

The total proposed fine of $27,500 reflects a 10 percent increase in the base penalties assigned to the violations. The increase reflects Selmet’s negative history of nine reportable accidents in the last three years.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health.

Contact Oregon OSHA’s no-cost consultation services for help with safety and health programs:

Phone: 503-378-3272

Toll-free in Oregon: 800-922-2689

Field office locations and phone numbers: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/maps.aspx

Email: consult.web@oregon.gov

The agency’s technical staff members can answer questions about rules and how to apply them:

Phone: 503-378-3272

Toll-free in Oregon: 800-922-2689

Email: tech.web@oregon.gov

Online contact form: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/Contact-Technical.aspx

Visit Oregon OSHA’s A-to-Z topic page for more information about on-the-job safety and health: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/az-index.aspx

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit www.osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

 

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