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NH: Redhook Brewery Fined, Electrical PPE Issues

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Portsmouth, NH — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations to the owner of Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth after a six-month investigation into the accidental death of an employee.

A 26-year-old brewery worker was fatally injured in April when a plastic beer keg he was cleaning with pressurized air exploded, striking him in the head and chest.

Craft Brew Alliance (CBA), the parent company of Redhook, now faces a combined $63,500 in fines from OSHA in connection with the accident, as well as workplace safety issues noted during subsequent inspections of Redhook’s brewery at Pease Tradeport. OSHA investigators have concluded the brewery’s keg washing equipment was operating at a pressure that exceeded the maximum threshold recommended by the manufacturer of the plastic keg when it exploded on the morning of April 24. CBA was issued three citations on Monday, following OSHA’s lengthy probe into the industrial accident.

The first citation was issued in connection with the keg accident, and it includes a pair of “serious” violations. A serious violation is one that “could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation,” according to information available from OSHA. OSHA investigators allege Redhook employee Ben Harris, the Newington man killed in the accident, was exposed to hazards while he was “over pressurizing a plastic keg” with the keg washer. The violation carries a $7,000 penalty. The keg involved in the accident was not owned by Redhook or any other brewery under the CBA umbrella. It was delivered to Redhook in error as part of a delivery of empty keg returns. CBA has indicated that Harris was emptying the keg in order to stack it on a pallet, in a manner “substantially identical” to the process the brewery has used for years without incident. The manufacturer of the plastic keg that exploded is not identified in the OSHA citation, which indicates the keg had a maximum recommended pressure level of 60 pounds per square inch (psi).  Redhook’s keg washing equipment was exceeding that level, according to the citation. It was also exceeding the maximum recommended pressure of Franke steel kegs, the citation states.  Steel kegs are commonly rated at a maximum working pressure of 60 psi as well, industry expert Jeff Gunn told Foster’s last week during a discussion of keg design.
In a statement issued to Foster’s Tuesday evening, Craft Brew Alliance noted that it did not willfully violate workplace safety standards, and said the issues raised in the citations have already been addressed.

“The Portsmouth brewery uses compressed air to push waste beer out of returned kegs prior to washing and filling,” the statement reads. “The brewery believes it was operating safely because it has historically washed and filled only stainless steel beer kegs without incident. Redhook had never worked with plastic beer kegs at the time of the accident and has implemented policies to ensure that plastic kegs are not processed. Additionally, Redhook has installed pressure reducing and pressure relief devices to ensure that no incoming keg is exposed to pressure in excess of 60 psi.”

On Sunday, Foster’s reported that some microbrewery owners across the country are beginning to cast a wary eye toward plastic kegs in light of the tragedy at Redhook.

The Brewers Association, one of the largest trade groups representing microbrewers in the country, has also received numerous reports from members about failures of plastic kegs.

All of those reports involve products manufactured by a California company called Plastic Kegs America, Brewers Association director Paul Gatza said last week.

Since the accident at Redhook, Foster’s has learned of at least four breweries around the country where plastic kegs have exploded while being cleaned in a pressurized keg washer. In each instance, the breweries were using products manufactured by Plastic Kegs America.

In each instance, the kegs separated at the center seam, where two pieces of plastic that form the keg come together.

CBA has indicated that the April 24 explosion that killed Harris split the keg around the middle seam where the two halves were joined.

In August, an unidentified brewery also submitted a report to the Consumer Product Safety Commission detailing explosions of two plastic kegs, with photographic evidence. Both were manufactured by PKA, according to the report.

OSHA has not released its full report on the circumstances behind the Redhook accident, and the manufacturer of the plastic keg that exploded has not been identified publicly.

An OSHA spokeswoman indicated Tuesday that the report will not become a public record until Craft Brew Alliance has been allowed to view it.

Plastic Kegs America has declined to answer questions regarding the accident at Redhook until after the OSHA report is made public.

Among microbrewers, the Redhook incident has also raised questions regarding what manufacturing standards apply to pressure vessels that hold beer. The Brewers Association is polling keg manufacturers to learn more about the domestic and international standards they utilize.

After concluding its investigation at Redhook, OSHA also cited CBA for a variety of other issues not related to the keg washing equipment.

In one case, OSHA assessed CBA a $6,000 penalty for storing oxygen and acetylene in proximity to each other.

A second citation lists 14 more “serious” workplace safety violations. In one example, Redhook allegedly failed to properly anchor a pedestal grinder in the maintenance shop to a fixed location, landing a $3,000 fine.

In another instance, employees were welding stainless steel containing chromium and the employer did not determine their potential exposure to chromium, according to the citation.

Six of the violations were corrected while federal inspectors were still visiting Redhook, the citation indicates. Another eight were awaiting corrective action when the citations were issued on Oct. 22. They have deadlines for action ranging from Oct. 23 to Dec. 5.

A third citation includes six low-level violations, classified as “other than serious.” Infractions included in the category include things like, “Label on drum of iodine was not legible,” and “blue rubber insulating gloves used during electrical testing/troubleshooting inside panel boards (up to 240 volts) were not tested.” None carry a fine.
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NH: $173,500 OSHA Fine, Electrical Hazards

August 9, 2012 Leave a comment
Merrimack, NH:  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed fines Monday totalling $173,500 for alleged workplace safety violations against 10 contractors that worked on construction of the Merrimack Premium Outlets shopping mall in Merrimack.  The proposed fines, citing alleged fall, electrical and other hazards, followed an inspection by OSHA’s Concord area office that began in January.  Cited were general contractor Hardin Construction of Atlanta, Ga., as well as nine subcontractors.
Besides Hardin, the subcontractors were roofing subcontractor P&A Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc. of Orlando, Fla.; steel-framing contractor F.L. Crane and Sons Inc. of Hutto, Texas; siding and trim contractor Palace Construction Inc. of Litchfield; MasRam Mechanical LP of Houston, Texas; Timber Structures of Auburndale, Fla.; Four Star Drywall LLC of Manchester; Professional Electrical Contractors of CT Inc. of Norwood, Mass.; Paul Modzeleski doing business as Sentry Roofing of Dunbarton; and J.M.D. Architectural Products Inc. of Tipp City, Ohio.
“Our inspection found workers exposed to a variety of common but avoidable hazards associated with construction work, notably falls and electric shocks,” Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director, said in a statement.
“Both of these hazards can kill or disable workers in seconds. For the safety of their employees, employers must adhere to required safeguards at all times on this and all job sites,” she said.
Each employer has 15 business days from receipt of OSHA’s citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Stroy via UnionLeader.com
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NH: Crane Electrocution

Newbury, NH: Fire officials say a tree service worker in Newbury, N.H., was electrocuted when a nearby crane came into contact with a high-voltage electric line.

Newbury Fire Chief Henry Thomas Jr. tells WMUR-TV the worker was standing with his hand on a wood chipper 20 feet from the crane when it touched a power line near the intersection of Route 103 and Sutton Road on Wednesday afternoon.

Thomas said electricity traveled down the crane, through the ground and into the wood chipper.

Story via Boston.com

OSHA Fines BlackMag $1.2 M Over Deaths of 2 Workers

October 25, 2010 1 comment

COLEBROOK, NEW HAMPSHIRE – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued 54 workplace safety and health citations with penalties totaling $1.2 million to gun powder substitute manufacturer Black Mag LLC, following an investigation into the causes of a deadly explosion in May at the company’s worksite in Colebrook, N.H. The explosion took the lives of two workers who had been on the job for only a month.

“The fines levied here pale in comparison to the value of the two lives lost,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Nonetheless, this was a tragedy that easily could have been prevented had the employer valued the health and safety of its employees. Employers should not sacrifice their workers’ lives for a profit, and no one should be injured or killed for a paycheck.”

On May 14, two workers and a plant supervisor were manufacturing a gun powder substitute known as Black Mag powder when the explosion occurred. The workers had been required to hand feed powder into operating equipment due to the employer’s failure to implement essential protective controls. The employer also chose not to implement remote starting procedures, isolate operating stations, establish safe distancing and erect barriers or shielding – all of which are necessary for the safe manufacture of explosive powder. Additionally, the employer chose not to provide the personal protective equipment and other safety measures its employees needed to work safely with such hazardous material. OSHA cited the company with four egregious willful, 12 willful, 36 serious and two other-than-serious violations with total penalties of $1,232,500.

“Even after a prior incident in which a worker was seriously injured, and multiple warnings from its business partners and a former employee, this employer still decided against implementing safety measures,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “Unfortunately, we see this kind of disregard time and time again across industries. All employers must find and fix workplace hazards so these types of avoidable tragedies don’t happen, and workers can return home safely at the end of the day.”

The four egregious willful citations were issued for the failure to train each of the four workers involved in the manufacture of the gun powder substitute. In addition to the two workers killed and their supervisor, there was an additional employee who left the job nine days before the explosion. Willful citations are considered egregious when more than one worker is exposed to a single hazard. The citation issued for that hazard is then multiplied by the number of workers exposed.

Other willful citations were issued for the failure to locate operators at safe locations while equipment was operating; separate workstations by distance or barriers and ensure that each worker was properly trained; provide adequate personal protective equipment, such as fire resistant clothing, face shields and gloves; safely store gun powder; and identify explosion hazards in the company’s operating procedures. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Some of the 36 serious citations were issued for the failure to separate small arms ammunition from flammable liquids, solids and oxidizing materials by a fire-resistive wall or by a distance of 25 feet; establish and implement an emergency action plan and provide written procedures to manage changes; provide personal protective equipment including clothing, respiratory devices, protective shields and barriers for workers exposed to lead; train workers on appropriate protective equipment; train workers in electrical safety-related work; address hazards associated with exit routes; and address hazards associated with handling, storing and transporting explosives. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The two other-than-serious violations are for a failure to perform respirator fit tests and to ensure that facial hair does not interfere with a respirator seal. 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.

To view all of the citations issued to Black Mag, visit http://www.osha.gov/dep/citations/blackmag.pdf.

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed fines to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Story via ReliablePlant.com

NH Man Shocked Connecting Sump Pump

NEWMARKET, NH – A local man suffered a severe electrical shock this morning while trying to set up a sump pump in his flooded basement.

The man, believed to be the property owner, was standing in about a foot of water in the basement when he was shocked. It is believed the shock occurred when the man reached down to touch the sump pump.

The man, whose name was not available, suffered severe burns to one of his hands, and was transported to Exeter Hospital for treatment.

“If there’s a foot of water, sometimes you can’t see everything. You never know if there’s an electrical cord that you can’t see and sometimes things aren’t grounded properly,” said Fire chief Malasky.

NH Student Critical after Electric Class Accident

March 23, 2010 1 comment

Dover, NH — An 18-year-old New Hampshire high school student was shocked while working on electrical circuits in an electrical trades class.    This was a low voltage accident as the maximum voltage in the classroom is 120 v.  CPR was performed by the teacher and was later flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he was listed in critical condition. 

Find out more and follow the story at the Boston Herald