Cal/OSHA Fines Explosives Manufacturer $293,235

Cal/OSHA this week cited explosives manufacturer Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company for multiple serious and willful accident-related workplace safety violations, after the agency's investigation of an explosion in Hollister, Calif., that seriously hurt a worker.

Cal/OSHA this week cited explosives manufacturer Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company, fining the company $293,235 for multiple serious and willful accident-related workplace safety violations, after the agency's investigation of an explosion in Hollister, Calif., that seriously hurt a worker. On Dec. 1, 2016, a technician was preparing explosives in metal tubing, known as Small Column Insulated Delays, for neutron radiation analysis. She had mounted 79 SCIDs onto aluminum support brackets attached to an aluminum metal tray. While attempting to apply tape to secure the SCIDs to the tray, 75 of the 79 tubes exploded. The explosion sent metal shrapnel flying in all directions, seriously injuring the technician, according to the agency.

Cal/OSHA inspectors determined Pacific Scientific did not take the steps necessary to protect the worker from explosive hazards. The willful serious violations included failure to:

  • Protect the employee's workstation from the explosive tubes in the holder, even though Pacific Scientific's manufacturing procedures require the use of a safety shield when working with the loaded holders.
  • Identify, evaluate, and control hazards associated with handling the explosive tubes during their manufacture.
  • Provide clear, written instructions on how to mount the SCIDs safely to a metal tray for required analysis.

"This explosives manufacturer put employees at risk by failing to follow their own safety procedures, and unfortunately a worker was seriously injured,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.

The agency said this wasn't the first time Pacific Scientific has been cited; a 2007 explosion seriously burned an employee who had to be airlifted to intensive care, and Cal/OSHA issued general citations for lack of required body protection and serious citations for the manufacturer's lack of a safety plan. Also, a 2015 accident caused another serious injury, and Cal/OSHA citations noted a failure to identify a hazardous practice safety plan.

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