$917,000 Penalty Issued to Massachusetts Company

OSHA said Bostik Inc., an adhesives manufacturer, did not follow proper process safety management procedures for handling large amounts of hazardous chemicals -- acetone, in this case.

OSHA on Sept. 13 announced one of its largest enforcement cases this year, saying it has cited Bostik Inc. of Middleton, Mass., an adhesives manufacturer, for 50 alleged violations of workplace safety standards following a March 13 explosion at the Middleton plant.

The citations allege Bostik did not follow proper process safety management procedures for handling large amounts of hazardous chemicals -- acetone used in a PSM-covered process known as direct solvation, according to the agency. The explosion resulted from the ignition of leaking acetone vapors when a valve on a transfer line was left open.

"The requirements of OSHA's PSM standard are stringent and comprehensive because the stakes are so high," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Failure to evaluate, anticipate, address, and prevent hazardous conditions associated with a process can result in a catastrophic incident such as an explosion."

Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA area director for northeastern Massachusetts, said Bostik "knew from prior third-party and internal compliance audits conducted at the plant that aspects of its PSM program were incomplete or inadequate, and misclassified electrical equipment was in use. The company did not take adequate steps to address those conditions. Luckily, the explosion happened when there were few workers in the plant. Otherwise, this incident could have resulted in a catastrophic loss of life."

OSHA issued nine willful citations with $630,000 in proposed fines and 41 serious citations with $287,000 in proposed fines for a range of problems, including an incomplete and deficient emergency response plan, inadequate training for employees required to fight fires, obstructed exit access, and electrical hazards.

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