Four companies fined after tragic accident in processing plant

The OSHA has fined four companies more than $187,000 regarding a deadly explosion that took place in Omega Protein's plant in Moss Point (Mississippi, USA)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined four companies more than $187,000 regarding a deadly explosion that took place last year in Omega Protein's plant in Moss Point (Mississippi, USA).

OSHA has found that Omega Protein, Accu-Fab & Construction Inc. and JP Williams Machine & Fabrication, in Moss Point, and Global Employment, in Pascagoula, were responsible for the tragedy that, they say, could have been avoided. Last July a worker died and another was seriously injured in an explosion that took place at Omega Protein's plant when a contractee was welding pipes above a tank that contained hazardous gases.

OSHA said in a press release that has issued 13 citations to Omega Protein, a producer of omega-3 fish oil and specialty fish meal products, for wilful, repeated and serious safety violations.

The company also received a citation for wilful violation exposing employees to fire and explosion hazards not informing Accu-Fab that the tank contained wastewater that could generate explosive gases, even in low concentrations. The repeated violations involved its facilities that lacked proper construction, and electrical boxes were not correctly labelled.

Accu-Fab was cited for four serious, two other-than-serious and one wilful violation. The metal fabricator was contracted by Omega Protein to build a wastewater storage tank that needed pipe modifications, and the company failed to train the employees properly on working in hazardous environments.

Staffing agency, Global Employment Services, which provided Accu-Fab with the employees needed at Omega, was also issued one serious citation for the same matter.

Finally, JP Williams Machine, which supplies industrial service and repair and was doing unrelated maintenance at the time of the explosion, was issued one serious citation for improperly storing oxygen and acetylene cylinders.

Omega Protein spokesperson, Ben Landry said: 'The health and safety of our employees and contractors is an absolute priority for Omega Protein, and we take these findings very seriously.' He added that the firm disagreed with the conclusions of OSHA’s report and it would request a conference with the entity and appeal parts of its determination.

Now the companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA or contest the findings.

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