Bostik Inc. will pay $600,000 in fines as a result of a massive explosion at its Middleton plant that rocked Massachusetts’ North Shore last year.
The fine down almost one third from the $917,000 the U.S. Department of Labor levied against the adhesives firm last September for 50 separate violations of workplace safety standards following the March 13, 2011, explosion said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.
The fine reduction is not unusual to prevent a lengthy litigation process and “reflects in part the employer’s willingness to put in resources to correct the issues that should have been addressed in the first place,” said Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Labor Department.
The most notable change is Bostik will no longer use the direct solvation process — the chemical process under way at the time of the explosion — at the Middleton facility.
The explosion occurred when a valve remained open, resulting in the release of flammable acetone vapors. The vapors exploded after ignition from an undetermined source, according to the state fire marshal. Four workers were hurt, and residents heard and felt the resulting boom for miles.
Bostik manufactures adhesives and sealants for use in everything from gas tankers and buildings to furniture and diapers, according to the company’s website.
A six-month OSHA investigation concluded last fall that the most severe of Bostik’s violations were the “serious deficiencies” in the company’s process safety management program — a comprehensive safety document required of companies that have more than 10,000 pounds of hazardous materials on-site.
The document must undergo continuous updating and include all safety precautions, issues, procedures, causes of past accidents and more.
Since then, Bostik has taken “corrective action to address deficiencies in its PSM program and enhance the program’s effectiveness,” OSHA said.
“The settlement commits Bostik to strengthening its PSM program to prevent the possibility of a similar incident in the future, and to apprise us of its progress in abating the hazards,” said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s area director for northeastern Massachusetts.