Illinois Plant Explosion Results in Four Fatalities, $1.5 Million in Penalties

OSHA has cited AB Specialty Silicones LLC with 12 willful federal safety violations after four employees suffered fatal injuries in an explosion and fire at the company's plant on May 3, 2019.

OSHA has cited AB Specialty Silicones LLC with 12 willful federal safety violations after four employees suffered fatal injuries in an explosion and fire at the company's plant on May 3, 2019. The company now faces $1,591,176 in penalties and OSHA has placed the silicon chemical products manufacturer in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Investigators found that AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards and were approved for hazardous locations. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition. 

"Employers must employ hazard recognition to protect workers from harm, especially in high hazard industries," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt in a press release. "By ignoring safety and health requirements, this employer created an unsafe work environment with deadly consequences."

OSHA provides resources on electrical safety and using forklifts when working with hazardous materials. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

"An employer's adherence to safety and health standards, including the proper use of electrical equipment and forklifts when handling flammable liquids, is critical to preventing fire, explosions and other incidents that can seriously or fatally injure workers," said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Nancy Hauter, in Chicago, Illinois.

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