OSHA Proposes $1.83million in fines against Didion Mlling following explosion that killed 5 - Atex Explosion Hazards
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24 Nov OSHA Proposes $1.83million in fines against Didion Mlling following explosion that killed 5

CAMBRIA, WISCONSIN, U.S. — The U.S. Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Nov. 17 proposed $1,837,861 in fines against Didion Milling Inc. following a May 31 explosion that killed 5 workers and injured 12 others.

The Cambria corn milling facility burst into flames during the evening of May 31. That’s were Duelle Block, Robert Goodenow and Pawel Tordoff were killed instantly, while Angel Reyes and Charly Nunez succumbed from their injuries days later. Another employee suffered a double leg amputation after being crushed by a rail car.

‘Willful’ and ‘serious’ violations cited

Under a 1970 federal law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces.

Dust is the main source of explosions in grain processing and storage operations, according to OSHA.  A small explosion can shake loose caked dust, creating clouds that ignite in a much larger secondary blast.

In the last 35 years, more than 500 grain dust explosions have been recorded in the U.S., killing more than 180 people and injuring more than 675, according to OSHA.

The state helped the company win $5.6 million in stimulus funding to expand its milling and ethanol facilities, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has reported.

OSHA says its five-month investigation found that the Didion mill failed to control highly combustible grain dust in its plant; and did not properly inspect and maintain safety controls on equipment. Records show the agency found similar violations during prior inspections of the plant between 2010 and 2014, and issued a number of fines for failing to install equipment to protect workers from combustible dust

As part of its findings, OSHA determined that the explosion likely resulted from Didion’ s failures to correct the leakage and accumulation of highly combustible grain dust throughout the facility and to properly maintain equipment to control ignition sources. The company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA said the egregious wilful citations were issued for violating OSHA’s Grain Handling standard by failing to perform required maintenance on operating equipment and implementing a housekeeping program to control dust accumulations.

Meanwhile, wilful citations were issued for failure to address hazards associated with fires and explosions,

  • Shut down ignition sources, the company didn’t regularly shut down milling equipment for inspection, lubrication and removal of debris to reduce risk of heat and sparks that can ignite dust.
  • prevent static electricity discharge,
  • provide adequate personal protective equipment to employees, esp. fire resistant clothing
  • Correct malfunctioning dust collection systems, violation of rules requiring dust-filtering machinery installed inside a building to be equipped with explosion-suppression devices.
  • maintain equipment safety controls,
  • have an emergency alarm system, so employees could escape as soon as a small fire started
  • the lack of employee training, Instead of requiring sweeping, Didion allowed workers to use compressed air to clear dust from surfaces around machinery that could ignite it,
  • Documentation: not creating a written dust-removal plan and schedule

 

Previous citations for explosion hazards:

  • Six filters set up to collect dust in the facility were not equipped with explosion protective systems
  • conveyor equipment wasn’t properly bonded to ducts that are used to control particulate matter,
  • Didion did not provide adequate respiratory protection for employees.

Didion stated that regardless of how we address OSHA’s decision, it is our intent to rebuild our corn milling facility in Cambria. As a family-owned company that has operated in the community for more than 45 years, we recognize how important our mill is for creating new jobs and adding economic value to the area, as well as providing an important source of revenue for area farmers, and offering our customers high-quality products.”

Didion remains committed to its pledge to build a “state-of-the-art, best in class facility.”

“The new mill will utilize the latest technology and industry best practices, creating one of the most efficient, effective and safe operational systems available,” Didion is continuing to work with industry experts and other agencies to determine the cause of the incident.

 

The above incident highlights failures in all of 7 principles seen in my previous “Basis of safety” talk at the MHEA conference in Sheffield a few weeks ago

 

1.       Material Properties: “ Dust is the main source of explosions in grain processing and storage operations, according to OSHA.  A small explosion can shake loose caked dust, creating clouds that ignite in a much larger secondary blast”. …… “OSHA says its five-month investigation found that the Didion mill failed to control highly combustible grain dust in its plant”…..

2.       Equipment: “did not properly inspect and maintain safety controls on equipment”

3.       Procedures: have an emergency alarm system, so employees could escape as soon as a small fire started”

4.       Human Factors: “the lack of employee training, Instead of requiring sweeping, Didion allowed workers to use compressed air to clear dust from surfaces around machinery that could ignite it,”

5.       Acceptable Risk: provide adequate personal protective equipment to employees, esp. fire resistant clothing”

6.       Deviations: Records show the agency found similar violations during prior inspections of the plant between 2010 and 2014, and issued a number of fines for failing to install equipment to protect workers from combustible dust

7.       Explosion Prevention and Protection: Correct malfunctioning dust collection systems, violation of rules requiring dust-filtering machinery installed inside a building to be equipped with explosion-suppression devices.” …..”prevent static electricity discharge”

 

Article Sources: 

http://www.nbc15.com/content/news/OSHA-proposes-18-million-in-fines-against-Didion-Millin-Inc-458308143.html

http://www.world-grain.com/articles/news_home/World_Grain_News/2017/11/OSHA_proposes_18_million_fine.aspx?ID=%7B4A371745-8AA9-48FF-9724-4455804CDE17%7D

http://www.wiscnews.com/portagedailyregister/news/state-and-regional/article_5b71f18f-b630-59a3-a9db-d13ac2f49801.html

http://www.wisfarmer.com/story/news/2017/11/17/didion-milling-faces-more-than-1-8-million-fines-may-blast/876246001/

 

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