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August 18, 2023
OSHA cites Ohio foundry in fatal steam explosion

A steam explosion at a Bedford, Ohio, foundry caused a maintenance supervisor’s death and injuries to 15 other employees, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluded, citing I. Schumann & Co. LLC for failing to protect workers from the hazard of steam explosions. The agency cited the company for six serious violations, proposing penalties that total $62,500, OSHA announced August 14.

The foundry has been closed since the explosion, OSHA says.

Agency inspectors learned the explosion happened while employees inspected a water leak on a furnace used to smelt solid metals. OSHA determined that water leaked onto molten metal inside the furnace, causing a steam explosion. Inspectors found the company didn’t ensure required lockout/tagout (control of hazardous energy) procedures were followed during the inspection of the furnace.

OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) was the agency’s sixth most frequently cited standard last year, cited 1,977 times.

“This terrible tragedy could have been avoided if the employer followed well-known machine safety standards that are meant to prevent this type of explosion,” Howard Eberts, OSHA’s Cleveland area director, said in an agency statement. “Sadly, a worker lost his life and 15 others were hurt in an incident that was entirely preventable. It’s exactly why employers need to follow required safety procedures and train their employees.”

I. Schumann & Co., based in Bedford since 1917, recycles materials into metal alloys, ingots, and pellets, according to the agency.

OSHA citations upheld in fatal Brooklyn trench collapse

An administrative law judge (ALJ) with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld OSHA’s citation of a former New York contractor OSHA held responsible for a fatal 2018 trench collapse in Brooklyn, the agency announced August 15.

OSHA reached a civil settlement with WSC Group LLC that upholds the citations and requires the company to pay $50,000 in penalties for violations. In the settlement, the employer states it has ceased operations and won’t perform any future construction work and that company owner Jiaxi “Jimmy” Liu won’t own, operate, supervise, or manage any company performing construction work.

OSHA inspectors found that Liu and WSC Group LLC willfully failed to provide an adequate protective system for employees working in a trench and exposed them to other serious excavation hazards, contributing to the death of a WSC employee in a September 2018 trench collapse.

The case before the review commission ALJ was paused while the Kings County district attorney’s office pursued a criminal case that led to Liu’s conviction for criminally negligent homicide and other charges in March 2023.

“This settlement affirms OSHA’s citations, which found that this employer knowingly failed to construct the trench protection system properly and did not use other safeguards that would have prevented a worker’s death in a cave-in. It also confirms that neither WSC Group LLC nor its owner will ever engage in construction work again,” Richard Mendelson, OSHA’s Region 2 administrator, said in an agency statement.

OSHA has an existing National Emphasis Program (NEP) of outreach, inspection, and enforcement to address trenching and excavation hazards. When trenching and excavation fatalities spiked last year, the agency pledged to make 1,000 excavation inspections.

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