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Crane Army Ammunition receives 34 notices of serious safety violations

Posted on by SST

An Army munitions manufacturer in Indiana received a notice of 34 safety violations following a March 28 explosion.

Crane Army Ammunition Activities, subordinate to various commands of the U.S. Army, is the Defense Department's second largest munitions depot, according to their website. The facility is the government's premier producer of flares and illumination candles and also handles a wide variety of traditional ammunition production. The federal base performs research and development of pyrotechnic devices, including a variety of flares and distress signals.

It was in the pyrotechnics building that five workers were hospitalized following an explosion in March.

Fiery incident
Though unclear about the cause, The Occupation Health and Safety Administration reported that the fire began in two dust collectors while workers were cleaning chemicals and manufacturing scraps from the area. The resultant explosion forced open an access door, spreading the fire to the production building.

Making use of their training, employees managed to get the fire under control quickly, WTHR reported. According to Tom Peske, public affairs officer for Crane Army Ammunition Activity, special fire suppression procedures were successful in dousing the chemical blaze. Five workers were injured, but released from the hospital that night.

'Notices' of violations
After months of investigation, OSHA gave CAAA a notice of 36 safety violations on Oct. 28, of which, 34 were "serious violations" due to hazards that present a substantial possibility of death or serious harm.

Failures of process safety management accounted for 25 of the serious violations. Among others, these included the failure to compile, update, and provide safety information with employees and the failure to conduct inspections on equipment.

The other nine serious safety violations were issued for a variety of hazards, including the failure to develop energy control procedures, to guard belts and pulleys, to assess personal protective equipment and to protect workers from combustible dust hazards.

In a release from CAAA, plant officials stated their willingness to work with OSHA as well as their commitment to safety.

"Obviously when an accident occurs, you want to ensure that you truly understand the problems that caused it and eliminate the threat of it happening again," Crane Army Commander Col. Joe Dixon said. "The safety of our workforce has to be our number one priority and it is not something that can be left to chance or luck. Only by encouraging a culture of safety in the workplace and never being complacent about it can we protect our most precious resource, our people."

CAAA was given 'notices' because 'citations' only apply to private-sector employers. Being under command of the U.S. army, CAAA is a federal unit. Because of this, OSHA is also unable to impose fines against the manufacturer.

Peske said that the facility will be making improvements to meet OSHA compliance, Army Times reported. However, he explained, "there are many gray areas to the standards and how they apply to the process, and those are the issues that need to be resolved."

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