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Mississippi company cited after explosion that killed welder


A workplace explosion that killed a Mississippi welder this summer could have been prevented if the employer adhered to proper workplace safety standards, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA on Tuesday cited Bentonia, Mississippi-based W.S. Red Hancock Inc. for willfully failing to fill a saltwater disposal tank with water and for failing to clean, ventilate and test the tank for flammable substances at the time of the July 2022 explosion in Flora, Mississippi,  that killed one worker and sent six others to the hospital.

The explosion occurred during welding operations on a job to replace old metal tanks with fiberglass tanks at a saltwater disposal site for oil and gas fields.

OSHA, which proposed $196,886 in penalties, said the company failed to instruct workers on proper ways to work with equipment containing flammable substances, failed to make medical attention available to workers exposed to explosion hazards, failed to remove or protect fire hazards near welding operations, and other alleged violations.

The company has 15 days to contest the citations.

In a separate case, OSHA on Monday cited a Missouri cattle processor for allegedly exposing workers to potentially lethal carbon dioxide levels.

OSHA cited Lone Jack, Missouri-based ZMDR LLC, doing business as Republic Foods, for two willful, four repeated and seven serious safety and health violations. It proposed $573,913 in fines.

OSHA alleges the company exposed employees to levels of carbon dioxide that exceed permissible exposure levels.

The company received similar citations in November 2020.

OSHA said the company also exposed workers to fall hazards, violated electrical workplace safety standards and failed to provide required machine guarding.

OSHA has cited the company for 35 violations since it opened in 2020.