Human Error Blamed for Pennsylvania Fatal Oven Blast

April 11, 2014

Officials at Mersen USA say human error caused an oven explosion that killed a visiting employee and injured another worker at a western Pennsylvania plant on Jan. 30.

Noah Nichelson, the general manager of the St. Marys plant, tells the Bradford Era that “incorrect placement of materials in an otherwise safely operating curing oven” caused the explosion. Nichelson didn’t detail what materials were involved.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues to investigate the blast that killed 52-year-old Arwed Ralf Uecker. Uecker was global director of research and development for Mersen USA Bn Group, based in Boonton, N.J. The blast also injured 58-year-old Neil Carter, of Ridgway, a plant production supervisor.

OSHA routinely investigates whether employers follow workplace safety guidelines after on-the-job fatalities. Those findings generally take at least six months.

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