Industrial Fire World - Blog - Specialty chemicals plant in Illinois faces nearly $1.6 million in penalties for fatal blast

Specialty chemicals plant in Illinois faces nearly $1.6 million in penalties for fatal blast

WAUKEGAN, IL –The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited AB Specialty Silicones LLC for 12 willful federal safety violations after four employees suffered fatal injuries in an explosion and fire at the company's Waukegan, Illinois, plant on May 3, 2019. The company faces $1,591,176 in penalties. OSHA has placed the silicon chemical products manufacturer in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA investigators determined AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids, and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition.  

"Employers must employ hazard recognition to protect workers from harm, especially in high hazard industries," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. "By ignoring safety and health requirements, this employer created an unsafe work environment with deadly consequences."

"An employer's adherence to safety and health standards, including the proper use of electrical equipment and forklifts when handling flammable liquids, is critical to preventing fire, explosions and other incidents that can seriously or fatally injure workers," said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Nancy Hauter, in Chicago, Illinois.

OSHA provides resources on electrical safety and using forklifts when working with hazardous materials. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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