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Cal/OSHA cites explosives manufacturer for workplace blast

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The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has again cited Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Co. and fined the explosives manufacturer $293,235 following a 2016 explosion that seriously injured a worker. 

The Hollister, California-based company was cited for nine workplace safety violations, including three in the willful-serious category, according to a press release issued Monday by the agency.

On Dec. 1, a technician was preparing explosives in metal tubing for neutron radiation analysis and had mounted 79 tubes onto aluminum support brackets attached to an aluminum metal tray. While attempting to apply tape to secure the tubes to the tray, 75 of the 79 tubes exploded and the explosion sent metal shrapnel flying in all directions, seriously injuring the technician.

Upon investigation, Cal/OSHA determined that Pacific Scientific failed to take the steps necessary to protect the worker from explosive hazards, citing “willful serious violations” including failure to “protect the employee’s workstation from the explosive tubes in the holder, despite Pacific Scientific’s own manufacturing procedures that require the use of a safety shield when working with the loaded holders,” among other violations. 

“This explosives manufacturer put employees at risk by failing to follow their own safety procedures, and unfortunately a worker was seriously injured,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum in a press statement.

This is the third time Cal/OSHA has investigated Pacific Scientific for neglecting their workers’ safety, according to the statement. In a 2007 explosion, an employee suffered serious burns and needed to be airlifted to intensive care, leading Cal/OSHA to issue general citations for lack of required body protection and serious citations regarding the manufacturer’s lack of a safety plan. And a 2015 accident caused another serious injury, resulting in Cal/OSHA citations noting a failure to identify a hazardous practice safety plan.

Officials with Pacific Scientific could not be immediately reached for comment.