US lumber producer fined $108,000 in relation to fatal September 2020 explosion
26 April 2021
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has fined lumber producer Sierra Pacific Industries $108,000 (£77,800) in relation to a pressure vessel explosion in September 2020. A maintenance worker was killed and another employee was injured by the blast at Sierra Pacific's lumber mill in Lincoln, California while the two men worked on an air compressor.
In a statement announcing the fine, Cal/OSHA said that on September 17, a Sierra Pacific Industries employee was setting up a Quincy 300 Compressor when a pipeline on the air compressor exploded. Pieces of the pipeline hit two employees nearby, injuring one and killing another.
“Working on equipment attached to pressure vessels such as air compressors requires special precautions,” said Cal/OSHA Deputy Chief Debra Lee. “Employers must identify and evaluate potential hazards before assigning employees to perform work on this hazardous machinery and equipment.”
Cal/OSHA cited Sierra Pacific Industries $108,300 for nine violations, including three serious accident-related, three serious, and three general in nature. The serious accident-related violations were cited for the employer’s failure to:
- Test the discharge piping prior to operating the Quincy 300 compressor and ensure proper connection.
- Ensure a pressure relieving safety device was installed in the line between the compressor and block valve.
- Ensure all pressure piping for the compressor was designed and fit in accordance with good engineering practice.
The serious violations were cited for the employer’s failure to ensure the energy within the pipeline system was controlled to prevent release during repair, and failure to ensure group lockout/tagout procedures were used and employees worked under supervision of a qualified person. The other citations were issued for violations related to uncertified employees welding, failure to establish hazardous energy control procedures and operating equipment under conditions of stress.