The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $1,837,861 in fines against Didion Milling Inc. following a May 31, 2017, explosion that killed five workers and injured 12 others, including a 21-year-old employee who suffered a double leg amputation after being crushed by a railcar.
OSHA found that the explosion likely resulted from Didion’s failures to correct the leakage and accumulation of highly combustible grain dust throughout the facility and to properly maintain equipment to control ignition sources. OSHA cited Didion’s Cambria facility with 14 willful – including eight willful per-instance egregious– and five serious citations, most involving fire and explosion hazards. The company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Didion Milling could have prevented this tragedy if it had addressed hazards that are well-known in this industry,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Ken Nishiyama Atha, in Chicago. “Instead, their disregard for the law led to an explosion that claimed the lives of workers, and heartbreak for their families and the community.”
The egregious willful citations were issued for violating OSHA’s Grain Handling standard by failing to perform required maintenance on operating equipment and implementing a housekeeping program to control dust accumulations. Willful citations were issued for failure to shut down ignition sources, prevent static electricity discharge, provide adequate personal protective equipment to employees, correct malfunctioning dust collection systems, maintain equipment safety controls, and have an emergency alarm system. Serious citations addressed hazards associated with fires and explosions, and the lack of employee training.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance.
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