AUGUSTA, ME - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Geneva Wood Fuels LLC for six alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards following an August 2009 explosion at the wood pellet manufacturing plant in Strong, ME.
OSHA's inspection found that the plant's employees were exposed to potential dust explosions and fires stemming from deficiencies in the construction, design or location of the plant's wood pellet processing system, the use of an unapproved spark-producing shop vacuum in a Class II, Division 2 location, and not training employees on specific work procedures to protect themselves from the explosive properties of wood dust.
"Combustible dust is a real and potentially deadly presence in many types of workplaces," said William Coffin, OSHA's area director for Maine. "Employers should not assume this hazard is minor or non-existent. Addressing it requires ongoing attention and effort, but proper precautions can prevent or minimize the possibility of a devastating explosion or fire."
OSHA's inspection at Geneva Wood Fuels also found unapproved lifting devices, missing safety signs and missing guardrails. All told, the six serious citations are accompanied by $27,000 in proposed fines. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
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