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Grain miller faces $1.8 million OSHA fine after explosion kills 5 workers

Grain miller faces $1.8 million OSHA fine after explosion kills 5 workers

Federal workplace safety regulators have proposed $1.8 million in fines against a Wisconsin milling company and have classified it as a severe violator of safety rules after an explosion killed five workers.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the citations and proposed fine against Cambria, Wisconsin-based Didion Milling Inc. following a May 2017 explosion that also injured 12 others, including a 21-year-old employee who suffered a double leg amputation after being crushed by a railcar, according to a statement issued on Friday.

OSHA found that the explosion likely resulted from Didion’s failures to correct the leakage and accumulation of highly combustible grain dust throughout the facility and to properly maintain equipment to control ignition sources. OSHA issued 14 willful citations, including eight deemed willful egregious violations, and five serious citations, mostly involving fire and explosion hazards.

OSHA also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on inspecting employers that the agency says have demonstrated indifference to their Occupational Safety and Health Act obligations through willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations.

“Didion Milling could have prevented this tragedy if it had addressed hazards that are well-known in this industry,” OSHA Regional Administrator Ken Nishiyama Atha in Chicago said in a statement.

Didion is continuing to work with industry experts and other agencies to determine the cause of the incident, the company said in a statement on Friday.

“The Didion team continues to mourn the loss of our team members who died or were injured that tragic day in May — we will never forget what happened,” the company said in a statement. “Our thoughts remain first and foremost with the families of those affected, our employees and the community. Didion does not agree with the severity of the penalties levied against our family-owned business or the conclusions released by OSHA (Friday). We are working with our legal counsel to determine how to address the findings from this federal agency. Regardless of how we address OSHA’s decision, it is our intent to rebuild our corn milling facility in Cambria.”

“The new mill will utilize the latest technology and industry best practices, creating one of the most efficient, effective and safe operational systems available,” the company added.


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