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Five workers injured in blast at ammunition company

Process Safety Management standards violated at facility

November 15, 2013
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ambulanceAn OSHA investigation at Crane Army Ammunitions Activity in Indiana following an explosion and fire that sent five workers to the hospital has resulted in 36 notices of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions at the company.

The fire occurred in two dust collectors in the pyrotechnic building, where workers were in the process of cleaning the production area. The explosion forced the access door open, causing the fire and pressure wave to strike the production building.

The facility receives, stores, ships, renovates, demilitarizes and produces conventional ammunition, missiles and related components.

Multiple violations of OSHA's Process Safety Management standards for facilities that use highly hazardous materials and chemicals were found at the facility.

Among them: failure to compile existing process safety information; involve workers' employees in the process; develop, maintain and update information regarding safe limits and consequences of deviation; include materials of construction for the system or design standards and codes; ensure that equipment complied with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices; address emergency operating procedures; and conduct inspections and tests on process equipment.

Nine serious violations involve failing to develop specific energy control procedures; train workers on energy control procedures; conduct periodic inspections of the procedures; provide lockout/tagout devices; to guard belts and pulleys; and conduct a personal protective equipment assessment and protect workers from combustible dust hazards. Additionally, two violations of OSHA's permit-required confined space standards were found, including failure to evaluate the workplace for permit-required confined spaces, issue entry permits and implement safe entry procedures.

Two other-than-serious violations involve failing to evaluate respiratory hazards in the facility and not reviewing incident reports with affected workers.

"The Crane Army Ammunition Activity failed to ensure the facility was in compliance with established safety and health procedures," said Vanessa Martin, director of OSHA's Indianapolis Area Office. " Thankfully, the hospitalized workers survived this unacceptable lapse in workplace safety."

As required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, federal agencies must comply with the same safety standards as private sector employers. The federal agency equivalent to a private sector citation is the notice of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions. A notice is used to inform establishment officials of violations of OSHA standards and regulations. OSHA cannot propose monetary penalties against another federal agency for failure to comply with OSHA standards.

Crane Army Ammunition Activity employs 750 personnel and is located at Naval Support Activity in Crane.

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