N.Y. Employer Fined Following Workplace Explosion and Fire that Burned 3 Employees

April 13, 2005

A Peekskill, New York scrap metal recycling plant faces nearly $30,000 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following an Oct. 4, 2004, explosion and fire that burned three employees, two severely.

Karta Corp., 1011 Lower South St., was cited for 12 alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following an inspection conducted by OSHA between Oct. 4, 2004 and Feb. 3, 2005. The penalties proposed for the alleged violations total $29,750. OSHA defines a serious violation as one where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Regarding the accident, the safety inspection reportedly found that fire hazards such as tanks containing hydrocarbon fuels and piles of wood chips had not been removed from an area where torch cutting was being performed and damaged equipment was being used in the process.

Other citations included electrical hazards and lack of proper guarding for moving components of numerous pieces of equipment. The company was also cited for an obstructed exit way, failure to perform annual inspections on portable fire extinguishers, and failure to train employees in fire extinguisher use and other fire hazards.

“There is no reason for employees to be exposed to hazards such as we found during this inspection,” said Diana Cortez, OSHA’s area director in Tarrytown, N.Y. “Employers must be constantly aware of their responsibility to protect their employees from hazardous conditions in the workplace.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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