Fire Sparks OSHA Investigation

Soldream Inc. faces more than $59,000 in proposed fines for multiple safety and health violations.

A fire in a titanium dust collection system at a precision machining shop in Vernon, Conn., has resulted in OSHA's identifying and citing 20 safety and health violations at Soldream Inc. According to a news release, proposed fines total $59,290.

"In addition to fire and explosion hazards, workers at this facility faced serious cuts and amputations, electrocution, illnesses and other serious injuries due to a lack of safeguards," said Warren Simpson, OSHA's area director in Hartford. "Clearly, worker safety and health were not the priorities they should have been. Soldream must quickly and effectively address these issues for the health and well-being of its employees."

A workbench in the finishing room of the facility caught fire on May 19, 2014, while an employee cleaned titanium aircraft parts. OSHA found that the bench had not been designed or equipped for work with titanium and that the bench and the room's dust collection system lacked adequate fire and explosion controls. Flammable titanium dust had also settled on electrical equipment. Additional fire hazards stemmed from the lack of sprinklers and fire safeguards in spray booths where flammable liquid was sprayed on parts, and employees did not have hands-on training to use portable fire extinguishers.

OSHA also found that employees in the spray finishing operation, who worked with the hazardous chemical molybdenum sulfide, lacked adequate respiratory protection. The workers had not been medically evaluated and fit tested for respirators or adequately trained in their use.

For employees who worked with liquid nitrogen, the company did not evaluate the need for and ensure the use of eye and face protection. In addition, containers of hazardous chemicals were not properly labeled, and workers were inadequately trained in the hazards associated with these chemicals.

In addition, several milling machines had inoperative or bypassed interlock mechanisms, which allowed them to operate with their access doors open. This exposed employees to being caught in the machines. Soldream was cited for serious violations in relation to these hazards.

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