Sierra Pacific Industries fined $108,300 after fatal explosion

Photo By Jason Morrison

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Sierra Pacific Industries has been fined $108,300 by Cal/OSHA for workplace safety and health violations after one of its employees was fatally injured when a pipeline on an air compressor exploded. Headquartered in Anderson, California, Sierra Pacific Industries is one of the largest lumber producers in the United States.

According to Cal/OSHA, on Sept. 17 an employee at Sierra Pacific's Lincoln facility 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. 

Cal/OSHA cited Sierra Pacific Industries for nine violations, including three serious accident-related, three serious, and three general in nature.

The serious accident-related violations were due to the company'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.

Cal/OSHA also cited the company for serious violations, noting a 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 utilized and employees worked under supervision of a qualified person.

“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.”

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.


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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]