Liquid Propellant Plant Fined $424,000 for Process Management Deficiencies

OSHA has proposed $424,000 in fines against Cortec Corp.'s aerosol and liquid container filling plant in Spooner, Wis., following a March 2008 explosion that caused serious injuries to two employees. Included in the total fines are six willful citations alleging violations of federal safety standards with proposed penalties totaling $378,000. Specifically, the federal workplace safety agency charged that Cortec failed to develop and implement a process safety management system to handle the flammable liquid propellants it maintained at the site and utilized for aerosol can production.

"If adequately developed and implemented, each cited process safety management deficiency would have led to an action resulting in the avoidance of this explosion," said Mark Hysell, director of OSHA's area office in Eau Claire, Wis. "This kind of indifference to proven approaches to safe handling of flammable materials will not be tolerated."

OSHA also has issued ten serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $46,000, alleging deficiencies with employee training, personal protective equipment, forklifts, respiratory protection, electrical hazards, storage of flammable and combustible materials, and safe equipment de-energization practices.

Cortec maintains a total of four facilities located in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, which federal or state OSHA agencies have inspected on eight occasions since 1997. Citations at the four facilities have addressed electrical hazards, machine guarding and lockout/tagout deficiencies, storage and handling of combustible and flammable liquids, and other violations of workplace safety regulations. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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