SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) today cited Quantic Industries, Inc. for 26 alleged violations of the state workplace safety regulations as a result of its investigation into the Feb. 11, 1999 fatal explosion at the company's Hollister location.
One employee died and another was seriously burned in the explosion. Cal/OSHA issued $146,475 in penalties, two fines for willful, 17 serious and one general citation.
Cal/OSHA has a concurrent criminal investigation underway through its Bureau of Investigation. The findings from that investigation, which focuses on possible criminal liability, will be given in a confidential report to the local district attorney's office for a determination whether criminal charges are applicable.
"Our investigation found the employer willfully violated the state safety and health codes by not providing protective equipment to the employees and for not providing them with information about the hazards of working with this specific explosive powder blend," said Cal/OSHA Chief John Howard. "It is strictly the employer's responsibility to ensure employees are provided with all the equipment and knowledge they need to conduct their work in a safe manner."
The explosion occurred while the two employees were working with an explosive powder composed of metal powder fuels and oxidizers. The powder blend is extremely sensitive to static electricity, friction, impact and excessive heat. The explosion, believed to have been caused by friction or electrostatic discharge, occurred while the employees were using a steel spatula to break up the powder in order to transfer it into a beaker.
Two of the alleged violations were classified as "willful," signifying the employer committed an intentional and knowing violation or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no effort to eliminate it. The penalties for willful violations totaled $90,000.
Seventeen of the alleged violations were classified as "serious," indicating there was a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a condition that existed for which the employer knew or could have known. These serious violations carried penalties of $54,450.
The remaining citation contained six allegations classified as "general," a classification used when the violation is not found to be serious but has a relationship to the safety of the employee. These penalties total $2,025.
California law provides that a company may appeal Cal/OSHA citations and penalties within 15 working days to the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board in Sacramento.Copies of the citations and investigation summary can be found on the DIR Web site at www.dir.ca.gov/DIRnews/Citations.pdf