Paint Manufacturer Fined $709,960 After Deadly Explosion

The company improperly altered a kettle reactor vessel and then returned it to service.

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An explosion and fire that killed a press operator lead and hospitalized eight other employees of Yenkin-Majestic Paint could have been prevented had the employer not altered a kettle reactor vessel improperly and then returned the vessel to service after it failed following the alterations, a federal workplace safety inspection has found.

A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation of the April 8, 2021, explosion determined the same kettle reactor vessel released a flammable vapor cloud when its manway cover and gasket failed. The vapor flowed throughout the plant, ignited and caused the initial explosion.

OSHA cited the paint manufacturer for two willful and 33 serious safety violations of the agency’s process safety management and hazardous waste operations and emergency response procedures. OSHA also noted violations involving lack of personal protective equipment and employee training. The agency proposed $709,960 in penalties and placed Yenkin-Majestic in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corp. could have prevented this terrible tragedy if they had followed industry standards and removed a compromised kettle from service,” said Acting OSHA Regional Administrator William Donovan in Chicago. “Knowing that this company altered equipment, failed to use a qualified fabricator and returned equipment to service aware that it did not meet safety standards is unacceptable.”

OSHA’s investigation determined that in December 2020, Yenkin-Majestic Paint altered the kettle reactor vessel and the manway opening but did not ensure the vessel maintained its pressure-containing ability. On Jan. 3, 2021, following the alteration, the newly installed manway failed. The company made additional alterations to the vessel when installing a new gasket and again failed to adhere to OSHA’s PSM, pressure vessel inspection procedures and the American Petroleum Institute’s pressure vessel inspection code.

Founded in Columbus in 1920, the Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corp. is a manufacturer of paint resins and coatings.

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