$1.5m Fines in Fatal Silicone Plant Explosion

OSHA has cited AB Specialty Silicones LLC for 12 willful federal safety violations after four employees suffered fatal injuries in an explosion and fire at the company’s Waukegan, Illinois, plant on May 3, 2019.

Local authorities said that the explosion shook nearby homes and businesses. Search crews spent days sifting through rubble searching for missing workers.

The company faces $1,591,176 in penalties. OSHA has placed the silicon chemical products manufacturer in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA investigators determined AB Specialty Silicones failed to ensure that electrical equipment and installations in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for hazardous locations.

The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to transport volatile flammable liquids and operated these forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids and gases, creating the potential for ignition.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Loren Sweatt, said: “By ignoring safety and health requirements, this employer created an unsafe work environment with deadly consequences.”

OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator, Nancy Hauter, in Chicago said: “An employer’s adherence to safety and health standards, including the proper use of electrical equipment and forklifts when handling flammable liquids, is critical to preventing fire, explosions and other incidents that can seriously or fatally injure workers.”