Cal/OSHA Cites Rocketdyne Division After Investigation of Fatal Blast

SAN FRANCISCO--The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) on Friday, January 20 issued five citations to Rockwell International's Rocketdyne Division for violations of state workplace safety regulations related to an explosion July 26, 1994 at the company's Santa Susana facility. Two employees were killed and one was critically injured in the blast.

"Although it is impossible to make a definite determination of the specific cause of the explosion, our investigators concluded that certain mandated precautions were not taken which could have contributed to the accident," Cal/OSHA Chief John Howard said.

Four willful-serious citations, carrying penalties of $50,000 each, were issued to Rocketdyne Division for violations of state workplace safety regulations. Specifically, the company received citations for:

* failure to provide separations by distance or barrier between work stations to prevent explosive materials in one station from being ignited by materials in the next work station;

* for failure to have an effective injury and illness prevention program containing specific training and instructions about new hazards encountered by employees handling explosives, and for failing to inspect to identify and evaluate new hazards that may have been encountered at the work station;

* for processing and blending static-sensitive explosives in 17 percent humidity when regulations call for humidity conditions above 20 percent;

* for preparing a test stand immediately adjacent to and within minutes of a test fire where scrap material had not been removed from the burn site rather than waiting the required 48 hours from the point when a prior burn had completely gone extinguished.

Additionally, state safety regulations require that employers involved in the manufacture of explosives report to Cal/OSHA the exact location of the place of manufacture and the kinds of explosives and hazardous materials to be manufactured or used. Rocketdyne Division received one willful-regulatory citation carrying a penalty of $2,500 for failure to apprise Cal/OSHA.

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.

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