A maintenance technician at a Georgia auto parts manufacturing company was engulfed in flames when the dust collector he was operating caused an explosion. The 33-year-old worker is still recovering from the third-degree burns on his upper body he received during the September 23, 2015 incident at Nakanishi Manufacturing Corp. in Winterville, Ga.

"Nakanishi Manufacturing had four previous fires in the dust collection system in Winterville and management knew that the combustible dust hazard was not corrected, yet they continued to let workers operate the system," said William Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Out of sight, out of mind is not an acceptable strategy for fixing workplace hazards. This mindset is dangerous, irresponsible and must be changed immediately."

An OSHA investigation into the accident has resulted in the agency issuing citations to the company for 18 serious, one willful and one other-than-serious safety and health violation. Proposed penalties are: $144,995.

The serious citations relate to the employer's failure to:

  • Evaluate the performance of powered industrial truck operators at least once every three years.
  • Train and inspect workers on the specific procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing.
  • Provide a workplace free from recognized hazards.
  • Failure to train employees on the hazards of combustible dust.
  • Conduct annual hearing test for workers exposed to high noise levels.

Other violations include not reporting a workplace injury on the required OSHA 300 log.

Headquartered in Osaka, Japan, Nakanishi Manufacturing Corp. employs approximately 153 workers in the U.S. The company manufactures plastic and metal automotive bearing retainers.