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Spooner Machine cited after explosion injures employee

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SPOONER – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited fabrication and machining company Spooner Machine Inc. for willful and serious safety violations after an explosion at the facility led to the amputation of an employee’s legs. OSHA proposed penalties of $221,168.

OSHA investigators determined an accumulation of hydrogen gas caused the explosion and cited the Spooner-based manufacturer for failing to develop and implement procedures to control the release of hydrogen gas during service and maintenance; to ensure proper machine guarding; store gas and oxygen cylinders properly; to provide required training; and protect employees from electrical hazards, according to a U.S. Department of Labor news release. OSHA has placed Spooner Machine Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Employers are required to ensure safe operating procedures in their facilities,” said OSHA Eau Claire Area Office Director Mark Hysell in the news release. “This injury could have been prevented if the employer had properly protected their workers from the release of hazardous energy.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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