OSHA released its findings from a federal workplace safety investigation into a metal plant explosion that an agency official called "entirely preventable."
The incident at the I. Schumann & Co. foundry in Bedford, Ohio, last February resulted in a maintenance supervisor's death and injured 15 other workers. Now, the company is facing six serious violations and $62,500 in proposed penalties.
According to a Department of Labor release, OSHA inspectors learned that the explosion occurred while employees inspected a water leak on a furnace used to smelt solid metals. The investigation revealed that water leaked onto the molten metal inside the furnace, which resulted in a steam explosion.
Furthermore, the inspectors discovered that the company did not ensure that the required lockout/tag out procedures were followed during the employees’ furnace inspection.
OSHA Area Director Howard Eberts said the tragedy could have been avoided if "the employer followed well-known machine safety standards."
The explosion reportedly scattered debris that damaged cars within hundreds of yards of the plant. It also caused catastrophic damage to the interior of the facility, which remains closed.
This incident represents the facility's second blast in Bedford. Back in 2006, an explosion caused by molten metal led to injuries for five workers.
Additional OSHA records concerning I. Schumann & Co., reported by N PR, involve an employee who sustained third-degree burns due to molten metal splashes in 2019 and fines for inadequate management of hazardous energy in 2022.
I. Schumann & Co. has 15 business days to comply, contest or request an informal conference. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.