A federal agency has fined Fox Valley Systems $262,000 and cited the company with 26 safety violations that stem from a March explosion and fire at the Cary plant that seriously injured three workers, officials said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the fine and citations Thursday. The agency, which enforces safety and health legislation, also placed the aerosol paint manufacturer into its severe violation enforcement program. That means OSHA has the authority to inspect the factory if it believes there are similar violations going on. The program, according to a news release, "focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations."
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"In part, workers were injured in this tragic explosion because they could not get out quickly because of blocked exit doors," Nick Walters, regional administrator for OSHA in Chicago, said in a statement. "This is unacceptable for any business, and especially for one handling hazardous materials and chemicals daily."
Fox Valley Systems has until Sept. 20 to contest the citations and suggested penalties. Company representatives could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
OSHA says flammable vapors ignited in the company's production facility in March, resulting in a fire and explosion that resulted in extensive damage to the building and its connected aerosol-propellant charging rooms.
Besides injuring three employees, the explosion and fire at the factory, 640 Industrial Drive, forced the evacuation of 20 to 25 businesses around the facility. The company employs 23 workers.
Cary police and fire officials, as well as representatives of the state fire marshal and OSHA were involved in the investigation after the fire. OSHA had also investigated the company following an accident in November 1995, when two workers were burned after a solvent splash generated a static charge that ignited vapors, according to a report on the OSHA website.
Kathy Webb, area director of OSHA's North Aurora Area office, said the business received seven serious violations. Among those cited was improper process safety management procedures when it came to working with highly flammable chemicals.
"They were issued citations similar to the ones that were issued Thursday," Webb said.