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Food additive maker cited after workers escape fireball


A Georgia food additive manufacturer was cited and is facing $180,180 in proposed penalties from federal safety and health regulators after an explosion involving hazardous materials injured four workers.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Savannah, Georgia-based Arboris L.L.C. for the December 2015 fire at its Newark, Ohio, facility after finding the company violated process safety management procedures for the handling of hazardous materials and did not have certain emergency shutdown procedures in place, the agency said Wednesday in a statement.

Two Arboris workers suffered smoke inhalation and first-degree burns, and two employees working for Columbus, Ohio-based Atlas Industrial Contractors L.L.C., which was contracted to decommission and demolish old process equipment, were injured while scaling an 8-foot security fence to escape the fireball, according to the press release.

OSHA issued one willful violation to Arboris for not having emergency procedures in place, and 35 serious and five other-than-serious safety citations for other violations including failing to develop procedures to maintain the ongoing integrity of equipment and prevent inadvertent startup or release of stored energy, failing to document inspections and maintenance, and failing to follow standard operating procedures and review them annually.

The agency also cited Atlas for one repeat, one serious and one other-than-serious safety violation for failing to store gas cylinders properly and to provide flame-resistant clothing and other personal protective equipment and proposed $41,000 in fines, according to the statement.

“Four workers were lucky to be able to escape with minor injuries after a fireball engulfed their work area,” Vanessa Martin, OSHA's area director in Columbus, said in the statement. “When employers fail to properly document procedures and control highly hazardous chemicals, there is a potential for unintentional releases which can cause explosions and fires.”

Spokespersons for the companies could not be immediately reached for comment.

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