Login Register Subscribe
Current Issue

Citations upheld against fireworks company in deadly accident

Reprints

An administrative law judge of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld serious workplace safety violations against a fireworks company related to the death of an employee, but slightly lowered the associated penalties.

On Aug. 12, 2014, two employees of Pittsburg, Kansas-based Jake’s Fireworks Inc. were unloading old fireworks from storage containers at the company’s former base of operations as the site was being cleaned up to prepare for a new tenant, according to a decision released on Tuesday. While the employees were unloading the last storage container, a fire broke out inside the container. A 28-year-old worker died from his injuries while his 43-year-old co-worker suffered burns over 80% of his body.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommended a $24,000 penalty, without considering the company’s levels of attempted good faith compliance or whether precautions to prevent injury were sufficient to a warrant significant penalty reduction, according to the document.

The judge affirmed the four serious and one other-than-serious citation items against the employer, but slightly reduced the penalties to $20,000 “based upon a somewhat larger assessment of (Jake’s Fireworks’) good faith efforts to prevent injury than was assigned by OSHA,” the judge said.

"Jake’s Fireworks believes the ALJ’s ruling was erroneous  according to the facts and law; therefore, Jake’s Fireworks will be appealing the ruling, and any further comment is inappropriate," Mike Baker, general counsel, said in a statement. 

The commission has adopted the administrative law judge’s decision as a final order as of May 30 and the department now has 60 days to ask for appellate review.