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Region 1 News Release: 09-880-BOS/BOS 2009-230
Thurs., July 30, 2009
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA proposes $147,600 in fines against M.S. Walker Inc. in Somerville, Mass., for fire, explosion and other hazards

ANDOVER, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited M.S. Walker Inc. for 26 alleged willful, serious and other-than-serious violations of safety and health standards at its Somerville, Mass., facility. The blender and distributor of alcoholic beverages faces a total of $147,600 in proposed penalties.

"The most serious hazard found here was the lack of adequate ventilation for the plant's rectifying room in which large quantities of flammable ethyl alcohol were blended," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "Inadequate ventilation can allow a buildup of flammable vapors, resulting in a fire or explosion."

Other fire-related hazards identified during OSHA's inspection included alcohol blending tanks that were improperly vented, uncovered or improperly covered; improperly tested tanks and piping used to store or process flammable liquids; improper control of ignition sources; using open buckets to catch leaking ethanol; inadequate or unmarked exit routes; and an inadequate fire-suppression system.

Also identified during the inspection were a lack of procedures and employee training to prevent the startup of machinery during maintenance; respirator deficiencies, including the lack of a written respirator program; lack of an emergency response program and employee training for chemical spills; untrained forklift operators and uninspected forklifts; lack of hazard communication training; and various electrical hazards.

As a result, OSHA has issued M.S. Walker Inc. one willful citation, with a proposed fine of $63,000, for