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OSHA holds Illinois pasta maker responsible for dust explosion

An Illinois company is under fire after a work accident caused two employees to sustain severe injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has since levied a $231,000 fine against the company, citing that the company willfully allowed or voluntarily disregarded unsafe work practices to occur. According to OSHA, these unsafe work practices directly contributed to the cause of the workers' injuries in question.

The accident happened during the fall of last year. Two workers had been performing equipment maintenance at a pasta manufacturing plant located in southern Illinois. While they were repairing a hole in a metal trough with welding equipment, a stray spark from the welder caused an explosion. The spark came in contact with dust that had gathered inside the plant and triggered an explosion inside a dust collector. This in turn caused the two men to be severely burned.

After a lengthy investigation, OSHA found the Glister-Mary Lee Corporation to be at fault for six violations, including three willful violations, concluding that the company deliberately disregarded or ignored their employees' safety. For this reason, OSHA has taken several steps with this company in order to ensure that workplace safety practices are implemented. The company will be forced to take part in investigations by OSHA as part of the OSHA's Severe Violation Enforcement Program to make sure that worker safety measures have been employed in the future.

Fortunately, no fatalities occurred as a result of this accident. Still, this investigation is a sobering reminder that some companies knowingly resist workplace safety guidelines, which directly contribute workplace accidents. Over the last several years, there have been multiple dust-fueled explosions at manufacturing centers throughout the country. By now, the danger that dust accumulation poses is well-known, so companies impacted by this should be taking all the necessary steps to prevent these incidents. Clearly, not every manufacturing center has followed trends and regulations designed to protect their personnel.

Source: WSIL-TV News, "Gilster-Mary Lee Cited for Safety Violations," Mandy Robertson, April 19, 2012

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