Cal/OSHA Cites Fuel Distributor After Fatal Explosion

The $99,345 citation against National Distribution Services Inc. follows an investigation into an explosion at the company's Corona facility. It killed one employee and severely burned another.

Cal/OSHA announced Nov. 10 it has issued a $99,345 citation against National Distribution Services Inc. following an investigation into an explosion at the company's Corona facility that killed one employee and severely burned another. Cal/OSHA's news release said the company's owner, Carl Bradley Johansson, served time in prison time after a previous similar incident. Johansson operated a business in Montebello, Calif. named Atlas Bulk Carriers and on Sept. 27, 1993, there was an explosion involving welding operations on a fuel tanker that not been purged or tested, according to the agency. That incident killed a welder employed by the company, and Cal/OSHA cited Atlas Bulk Carriers in that case.

The NDS explosion occurred May 6, 2014, as two employees attempted welding operations on a 9,000-gallon tanker truck containing an unknown amount of crude oil. Cal/OSHA investigators found the tank had not been purged or tested for flammable vapors. Samuel Enciso, 52, a welder who had been with NDS for four years, was found dead on the floor of the facility with his right hand and lower arm completely severed. A second employee with five years of experience suffered burns to more than 50 percent of his body.

Investigators from the San Bernardino Cal/OSHA District Office determined that NDS contributed to this incident by failing to have required safety procedures in place for working with flammable vapors and that NDS failed to train employees on the dangers of welding near combustible materials. "California requires employers to have and adhere to an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. This preventable death is a reminder of what can happen when that requirement is ignored,” said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, parent agency of Cal/OSHA.

The release said as they were investigating the May 6 event, investigators learned about a previous explosion at the Corona facility that occurred under similar circumstances, and involved the same two NDS employees. That one happened Sept. 25, 2012. The lid of a fuel tanker blew through the ceiling of the repair facility after the employees began welding on a truck filled with flammable vapors, but no injuries occurred that time.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration served NDS with an emergency restriction order on Aug. 14 that prohibits the company from using cargo tank motor vehicles, and the company appealed the order in September, Cal/OSHA reported.

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