Crane Army Ammunition Activity is facing 36 notices of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions following an explosion and fire March 28 in the pyrotechnic building of the Crane, IN, facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Five workers ended up hospitalized in the incident and then received treatment at the hospital and released.

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“The Crane Army Ammunition Activity failed to ensure the facility was in compliance with established safety and health procedures,” said Vanessa Martin, director of OSHA’s Indianapolis Area Office. “All employers are responsible for recognizing hazards in their facilities and addressing them by following OSHA standards. Thankfully, the hospitalized workers survived this unacceptable lapse in workplace safety.”

The explosion and fire occurred in two dust collectors in the pyrotechnic building, where workers were in the process of cleaning the production area. The explosion forced the access door open, causing the fire and pressure wave to strike the production building. The facility receives, stores, ships, renovates, demilitarizes and produces conventional ammunition, missiles and related components. Multiple violations of OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standards for facilities that use highly hazardous materials and chemicals occurred at the facility.

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OSHA listed 34 serious safety violations. A violation is serious when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Twenty-five of these serious violations involve PSM, including failure to compile existing process safety information; involve workers’ employees in the process; develop, maintain and update information regarding safe limits and consequences of deviation; include materials of construction for the system or design standards and codes; ensure that equipment complied with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices; address emergency operating procedures; and conduct inspections and tests on process equipment.

Nine serious violations involve failing to develop specific energy control procedures; train workers on energy control procedures; conduct periodic inspections of the procedures; provide lockout/tagout devices; to guard belts and pulleys; and conduct a personal protective equipment assessment and protect workers from combustible dust hazards. Additionally, investigators found two violations of OSHA’s permit-required confined space standards, including failure to evaluate the workplace for permit-required confined spaces, issue entry permits and implement safe entry procedures.

Two other-than-serious violations involve failing to evaluate respiratory hazards in the facility and not reviewing incident reports with affected workers. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

As required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, federal agencies must comply with the same safety standards as private sector employers. The federal agency equivalent to a private sector citation is the notice of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions. A notice inform establishment officials of violations of OSHA standards and regulations. OSHA cannot propose monetary penalties against another federal agency for failure to comply with OSHA standards.

Crane Army Ammunition Activity employs 750 workers and is at Naval Support Activity in Crane.

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