Explosion in Dumpster at Alloy Plant Leads to $44,000 Penalty

OSHA has cited Felman Production Inc. for exposing employees to workplace safety and health hazards at its plant in Letart, W. Va. Proposed penalties total $44,000. The agency initiated an inspection on May 12 after being notified of an explosion in a waste dumpster at the facility. As a result of the inspection, the company was cited for 10 serious violations.

"Each of these hazards threatens the company's ability to provide employees with a safe and healthful work environment, and should be corrected immediately," said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA's Charleston Area Office in the state.

The violations include inadequate hearing and respiratory protection programs, electrical hazards, improper use of compressed air, as well as employee exposure to silica, lead, and manganese fumes. A serious citation is issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

According to company information, the Letart site produces ferrosilicomanganese, a product used as a steel deoxidizer and alloy additive; the process of deoxidation through the use of ferrosilicomanganese produces a purer steel, and manganese increases the deoxidizing ability of silicon. U.S. steel companies are the main consumers of ferrosilicomanganese, and Felman produces 9,000 net tons of the stuff each month.

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

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