Blast Injured Two at Manufacturing Plant

OSHA has fined Polychem Services Inc. $110,000 in the enforcement case.

After two temporary workers were injured in an explosion at Polychem Services Inc. of Chicago Heights, Ill.,, leaving them unable to return to work for months after being hospitalized with first- and second-degree burns, OSHA has cited the company, according to the agency's news release. The blast was ignited by a gas-powered forklift, according to the agency.

An OSHA investigation into the incident identified six willful, one repeat, and four serious safety violations for the company. "Two employees in their prime work years have suffered severe and painful injuries that keep them from their livelihood because Polychem Services ignored worker safety," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "Lack of training, combined with using a forklift not approved for this environment, proved an explosive combination. When you operate a plant producing flammable materials and byproducts, worker protection must be job one."

OSHA's release identified the temporary services company that assigned the two employees to the plant, a 34-year-old worker who had been employed at the facility for about six weeks and was hospitalized for six days and a 35-year-old worker at the plant for about 11 months who was hospitalized for one day, but said the company was not cited because it did not oversee or direct work at the site.

The investigation found that Polychem Services failed to provide a suitable industrial vehicle for use in a hazardous location, did not train workers about hazardous workplace materials, and lacked adequate drenching facilities for workers exposed to corrosive chemicals.

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