The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Environmental Enterprises Inc. for several safety and health violations after a fire and explosion occurred at its facility, severely burning two employees, including one fatally. According to an OSHA news release, Environmental Enterprises, a Cincinnati waste treatment company, in all was hit with 22 violations following the incident. The 22 violations carry proposed fines totaling $325,710 and have landed Environmental Enterprises a place in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Even after this tragic explosion, [Environmental Enterprises] failed to immediately address procedures and ensure employees knew how to use appropriate personal protective equipment and properly handle hazardous waste such as sodium chlorate,” Bill Wilkerson, OSHA area director in Cincinnati, told the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs. “OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, and educating employers about safety and health regulations.”
After an investigation, OSHA traced the cause of the fire and explosion to the ignition of an organic industrial filter cartridge filled with sodium chlorate. Sodium chlorate, which is a strong oxidizer, becomes sensitive to reactions capable of resulting in fire and violent explosions when in contact with incompatible materials, including organics. In the case of the Environmental Enterprises accident, an electrically powered reciprocating saw that the employees received permission to use to remove metal end caps and mesh from the filter was the probable source of the fire and explosion’s ignition.
“Environmental Enterprises demonstrated a complete disregard for employees’ safety and health by failing to recognize and train employees on potentially dangerous interactions between materials being handled and tools in use,” said Wilkerson.
A company should do everything in its power to make sure that its employees are working in a safe environment and are properly trained on safety procedures. However, many employers just flat out refuse to put worker safety first.
Our firm has been successfully helping workers who were injured on the job due to their employer’s negligence since 1929. There is information about workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits and how we can help you if you suspect your employer is violating your rights on our website. You can also contact our firm today at (614) 221-7548 for more information or to schedule a free consultation with one of our Columbus workers’ comp lawyers.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys
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