Crane issued 36 notices for unsafe work conditions

Published: .
Updated: .

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued 36 notices for unsafe working conditions to Crane Army Ammunition Activity. The agency has two weeks to comply with the notices.

Five workers were injured in an explosion and fire at the facility in March 2013, prompting an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The blast occurred in the pyrotechnic building of the Crane facility, and sent five workers to the hospital. They were treated and released.

Vanessa Martin, director of OSHA's Indianapolis Area Office, called the violations an "unacceptable lapse in workplace safety."

According to OSHA, the explosion and fire occurred in two dust collectors in the pyrotechnic building, where workers were in the process of cleaning the production area.  The facility receives, stores, ships, renovates, demilitarizes and produces conventional ammunition, missiles and related components.

The explosion forced the access door open, causing the fire and pressure wave to strike the production building.

Multiple violations of OSHA's Process Safety Management standards for facilities that use highly hazardous materials and chemicals were found at the facility, according to a report out Monday.

About the violations

OSHA says it found 34 "serious" safety violations, which are defined as a "substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known."

Twenty-five of the serious violations involve PSM, including 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. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Federal agencies have to comply with the same safety standards as private sector employers, but OSHA cannot impose monetary fines on them.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Indianapolis Area Office at 317-226-7299.