OSHA Cites N.J. Company Following Fatal Explosion

July 28, 2005

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Acetylene Service Company, Perth Amboy, N.J. for alleged safety and health violations after a January explosion killed three workers. Proposed penalties total $237,600.

The company is a subsidiary of Acetylene Supply Company Inc., headquartered in Woodbridge, N.J. The Perth Amboy site employs 15 workers to fill, re-qualify and recondition acetylene cylinders.

OSHA initiated its investigation Jan. 25 in response to a report from Perth Amboy police. The agency’s citations against the company alleged three willful violations with $126,000 in proposed penalties and 37 serious violations with $111,600 in proposed penalties.

“This company’s disregard for safety and health greatly heightens the level of danger for its workers,” said Robert Kulick, area director of OSHA’s Avenel office. “When working with hazardous materials, employers must be diligent in adhering to OSHA regulations.”

The willful citations were issued for failure to: update process hazard analysis; perform inspections and tests on covered processes to maintain mechanical integrity, and maintain required documentation about inspections and testing of equipment.

Serious violations included failure to: design, construct and test the acetylene system; assure safe, sealed storage of gasoline; provide proper storage of flammable gases and liquids, and provide safe storage and use of a portable propane heater inside the production building.

Serious citations also were issued for the following deficiencies: inadequate inspection and servicing of fire extinguishers; lack of clear space around a paint spray booth and proper ventilation during mixing of flammable paints; failing to address human factors that create worksite hazards; not conducting all appropriate testing before workers enter a permit-required confined space; failing to identify specific equipment covered in the lockout/tag-out program, a process that prohibits inadvertent start-up of machines, and lack of hazard communication training.

OSHA issues a willful citation when a violation is committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A serious violation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious injury could occur.

The company has 15 working days to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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