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Flash fire leads to safety citations for auto parts maker


A Georgia auto parts manufacturer is facing $144,995 in proposed penalties from workplace safety regulators after a flash fire severely burned a maintenance technician.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Nakanishi Manufacturing Corp. in Winterville, Georgia, after a September 2015 incident in which a 33-year-old maintenance technician was engulfed in flames when an explosion occurred while he was operating a dust collector, the agency said Wednesday in a statement. The explosion caused third-degree burns to the upper body of the employee, who continues to recover from his injuries, according to the agency.

OSHA launched an investigation after learning of the employee's hospitalization and issued a willful citation to the manufacturer for exposing workers to unguarded machinery. The agency also issued 18 serious citations for the employer’s failure to evaluate the performance of powered industrial truck operators at least once every three years, train employees on the hazards of combustible dust and conduct annual hearing tests for workers exposed to high noise levels, among other violations.

The employer also was cited for one other-than-serious safety and health violation for not reporting a workplace injury on required OSHA forms, according to the agency.

“Nakanishi Manufacturing had four previous fires in the dust collection system in Winterville, and management knew that the combustible dust hazard was not corrected, yet they continued to let workers operate the system,” William Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East area office, said in the statement. “Out of sight, out of mind is not an acceptable strategy for fixing workplace hazards. This mindset is dangerous, irresponsible and must be changed immediately.”

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

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