ALBANY, Ore. – After an explosion and fire at the Selmet plant in Albany in August 2019, the company is now facing thousands of dollars in fines from the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA says the company violated job safety rules, which led two workers to be injured in a furnace explosion. One of the workers suffered second and third-degree burns.
In total, Selmet will be required to pay $27,500, a 10% increase in the base penalties for the violations they were cited for. The increase is due to the company’s “negative history of nine reportable accidents in the last three years,” OSHA said in a statement.
The investigation into the explosion found that the company failed to account for employee safety in the layout and design of the foundry and overlooked proper work clothing and equipment.
“There are concrete steps employers can take to make safety a meaningful part of the operation of a work site,” said administrator Michael Wood. “Neglecting such steps, as this case demonstrates, serves only to invite more risk and the severe consequences that frequently come with it.”
OSHA’s statement said the day of the incident, a worker was operating an older furnace to melt titanium, and a system failure caused water used for cooling to leak, and the molten titanium reacted to it, triggering the explosion.
The blast blew the roof off part of the building and threw another worker stationed at the operating panel of another furnace into a parts table.
OSHA said the company should have included blast walls in the foundry, as well as isolated control rooms, or required employees to remove themselves from the risk zone during operations. Similar measures were available with Selmet’s newer furnaces.